In three weeks from Monday, residents of municipalities across Ontario including here in Waterloo Region, will elect new mayors, councillors and trustees.
However, voter turn-out – especially in municipal politics – is awful. Anywhere from 25 per cent to 35 per cent of eligible voters actually cast a ballot.
For example, let’s look at the Cambridge mayoralty race in 2010, which had three candidates, Doug Craig, Andrew Johnson and Linda Whetham. According to the City of Cambridge website, out of 80,714 eligible voters, only (and I mean only) 23,494 people voted.
That means 29.1 percent of eligible Cambridge voters took the time to elect their mayor.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, or are truly disengaged and didn’t know, Doug Craig won. He collected 47.8 per cent of the vote.
That means of eligible voters, Craig was elected into another term as mayor by merely 13.9 percent of eligible voters.
13.9 per cent.
That’s it. That’s all.
Nothing against Doug, but that is not exactly an overwhelming mandate.
And this is nothing new. The case is the same in virtually every city, in every ward and for every position up for grabs.
Municipal governance is the layer of politics both most responsive and most likely to affect our day-to-day lives. And yet, very few people seem to be engaged in a democratic right that people have given their lives to deliver. A right that is supposed to under-pin our society.
So it begs the question. Are you going to exercise your civic duty, and make your opinion count?