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Make your vote count this time

Darius Mirshahi | Social Justice Club President | Opinion | October 1st, 2007



Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.
Your vote doesn't count. Well at least not yet it doesn't. Our current voting system is a pathetic charade of democracy where people vote out of fear instead of hope. People here vote against the party they hate instead of for the party they want. It is not democracy that keeps the Liberals and Conservatives in power, it is the fear of “throwing away a vote” by choosing something different. This systematic electoral intimidation has to end now.

But can we blame people for voting ‘strategically' when the voting system is so unrepresentative of peoples' views? In our antiquated ‘first past the post' system, political power is not representative. In the last provincial election only 46 per cent of people voted Liberal, but somehow the Grits managed to take 70 per cent of the seats in the Legislature. The Conservative Party won 34 per cent of the vote, but this only translated into 23 per cent of the seats. The 14 per cent of voters who did not vote ‘strategically' by choosing the NDP only produced seven per cent of the seats, while nearly 127,000 or four per cent of voters chose the Green Party and got no representation at all. To break it down in different terms, the Liberals now have one seat for every 29,000 votes. The Tories have one seat for every 64,000 votes. The NDP has one seat for every 94,400 votes. And the Greens have no seats to represent their 127,000 votes. Is this democratic?

When you look at how this system works, it's not surprising that less and less people are voting. In the last election only 57 per cent of eligible voters cast their ballot. That was down from the previous lection that only drew 59 per cent. There's something fundamentally wrong with a ‘democracy' in which nearly half of eligible voters choose not to vote. When people see how the system is stacked against them, they generally don't feel encouraged to participate in a sham election. When I ask people why they don't vote, they say “because it doesn't make a difference,” and they're right.

But the chance to make a difference has finally arrived. The chance to express your frustration with this undemocratic system is finally here. No I don't mean tearing up your ballot as a protest, which is fun. I mean voting for a new system, which is more effective, but less fun. I know that changing the system itself sounds way too revolutionary to be put to a vote, but we actually have this option on Oct. 10. We can keep the undemocratic status quo, or we can choose Mixed Member Proportional (MMP), a new system that was proposed by the Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform.

If 60 per cent of Ontarians vote for MMP, we will have a fairer democracy in which our votes count. We will get two votes, one for a local candidate, and another for a political party. Twenty-five per cent of the seats in the legislature will be set aside as list seats to fill the gap so that every party has seat numbers that are proportional to the number of votes cast in their favour. This will end ‘strategic' voting, freeing people up from the two-party trap. Under the new system, people will know that they are never throwing away a vote, because every party will be represented fairly. MMP will also empower people who don't like any existing party to form new parties and establish them easier. This is a truer form of democracy that will empower the people of Ontario. Voter participation will skyrocket simply because there will be no excuses left to not vote.

So go out and vote! There's no excuse for apathy this election, if you don't like the system bring it down with the ballot. Vote for Change. Vote for Democracy. Vote for MMP.

For more info visit the citizens assembly's website at www.citizensassembly.gov.on.ca.
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