Monday, May 2, 2011

#elxn41: You Have Another Choice

Nation, this is usually the time when I get up on my soapbox and exhort you, in the strongest possible terms, to make sure you go out tomorrow and exercise your democratic franchise. That you honour those who fought and died for that right, by making an informed choice at the ballot box.

I really want you to go out to your polling station. I REALLY do.

That's the choice that you always have to make, really: Do I vote, or do I not vote?

After all, it's a binary thing, right? You either got in the car, went to the polling station, and cast a ballot for one of the candidates...  or you stayed home, made some Kraft Dinner, and caught up on some housework. One decision, 2 possible courses of action.

I'm telling you today that you have a third option.

Go to the polling station, and refuse your ballot.

Now, I should be very clear, here: In Federal elections, ballots rejected by the voter are not marked in a separate category, as they are in certain provincial elections (like the ones in Alberta, for example). They go into the same category as "spoiled" ballots - a fact of which I was unaware until recently - as "ballots rejected by the returning officer".

If you didn't find a local candidate you could support in this election...  if no one did you the courtesy of returning your calls, or coming by the house and asking you for the job... if the candidate you were most likely to support didn't come to the all-candidates' forum in your riding...  if you can't bring yourself to cast a ballot for a candidate attached to any of the parties, or their leaders...  I want you to put on your coat tomorrow, drive to the polling station, and when they give you your ballot, I want you to hand it back, get the black border torn off, and drop it - unmarked - into the ballot box.

Your vote counts.

It gets marked down as "rejected" - but, you'd better believe that if 10, 20, or 30% of all ballots cast in the election are "rejected" ballots, the politicians are going to sit up and take notice.

Sick of the way federal politics are done in this country?  Look in the mirror...  the parties run ads like this because they WORK. They behave the way they do in the House of Commons because it WORKS. They give us garbage candidates in a lot of ridings because we ACCEPT the garbage candidates they give us. They run campaigns of flash instead of substance, because we don't demand any better. 50% come out and vote for whatever potted plant they often put in front of us, and 50% stay home, which the parties interpret in any of a thousand ways. But, those who stay home give up their franchise. They lose their chance to send a message. They're asked for their opinion - and they stay silent.

If you've found someone to vote for on May 2nd, good for you - please make sure to go out and vote for them.

If, however, you want to register a REAL protest vote...  don't vote for the second most popular party in your riding. Don't vote for the party you feel most needs the $2 that is attached to your ballot.

Convinced no one has earned your support?

Don't give it to anyone.

You're not limited to "vote or stay home". You have a third choice.

You can reject your ballot, and choose "none of the above".

But get out there, and go to your polling station.

Or go to your local Legion, find a Veteran, and explain why he could go to Korea or Normany, but you can't make the 4-block trip to your local elementary school.

A cast ballot is power and a choice, no matter what mark (if any) is made on it.

A voter who stays home is part of the problem - not part of the solution.

Men and women died so you could make your choice.

So make it.

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