First of all, there are a few things I would like to address regarding the previous post, “Why I am choosing not to vote.”
Much of that was written defensively and highly informally. As a result it may have come off as inflammatory. I was surprised by how appalled many people were when I said I wasn’t voting before I wrote that post; I had not really thought it through and much of the post was an attempt to understand my own justification for why I was not voting.
The purpose of this post is to clarify and express why, chances are, next election I will not be voting barring an incredible increase in knowledge. I do not intend to discourage anybody from voting or trying to make a difference. I do encourage people to inform themselves on the issues facing our province. While I am not proud of my apathy in terms of informing myself on the political sphere, I still find a lacking return for effort on informing myself. I imagine that much like the approximately 49 percent of voters (link) who turned up this year, I have good reasons for not voting which may apply to some of the 49 percent of voters who also did not show up to the polls. To be clear, my hierarchy of responsible citizens starts with informed voters on top, uninformed non-voters in the middle, and uninformed voters at the bottom.
Let’s do some rough math. My electoral district, full of candidates whose names I had never heard of before has about 150,000 voters. 1 in 150,000 seems to be pretty negligible in terms of decision making. Let’s say that half that showed up for the sake of argument, 1 in 75,000. Still not great, especially considering that in 2011, about 90,000 people showed up to vote making 1 in 90,000 more accurate. Of course, even if my vote had won there are 106 other ridings ultimately determining the party that wins the provincial election. So if it is for the sake of deciding which policies come about in this province, this seems like an ineffective way of making my voice heard. This is the first reason I did not vote.
Sticking with our hypothetical scenario wherein every citizen were to vote, I think it’s fair to assume that the majority of the citizens who did not show up to the polls are generally uninformed at best because anybody taking the time to inform themselves will take the significantly smaller amount of time that it takes to vote. So you now have almost half of your decision making people voting based on insufficient research. It amounts to playing pin the tail on the politician, where half the people are wearing blindfolds. Keep in mind this is assuming that the other half are informed, which I find to be highly dubious. That aside, uninformed voting can only be detrimental or coincidentally beneficial to an otherwise rational (as opposed to a random) choice. So not only did I not vote, but chances are that it doesn’t make sense to encourage people to vote uninformed. This is the second reason I did not vote.
Some excellent reasons to vote include:
1. Everyone is actually equal!
2. Responsibility as a citizen: keep the government accountable.
3. Decide what happens with your money!
I can’t help but realize that in response to everyone being equal, my uninformed, random x-marks the inny-minny-miny-mo spot is worth the same amount as your meticulously researched decision. That, in terms of keeping the government accountable to the populace, the moment I suspect my government is beginning to lose accountability is the moment I personally draw my line. Fortunately, I’ve got about (very rough estimate) 4.5 million warning canaries before the government gets to that line. And finally, after subsidized University and taxes in my earning bracket, I’m probably not paying anything to the government. So I suppose it’s a chance to get one four-millionth of a say in what happens with everybody else’s money.
But to summarize on a positive note, it is important to stay current on what is happening. The fact that I do spend more time playing computer games than reading the news means I am not actively working to make the world a better place or effecting change and I recognize that; I hope one day I will lead and/or propagate positive change. I’m not encouraging willful ignorance, I’m encouraging people to stop caring only once every four (or in this case, three) years. The problem with governments do not stem from a lack of citizen involvement on voting day, these problems stem from people only being involved on voting day. I refrained from voting because I was unable to vote responsibly, not because I disagree with democracy or the principles of accountability. Were I to be informed, I should hope that voting is the most insignificant thing I would do to create positive change in the world.
As always, feedback is welcomed.