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Wednesday, 8 October 2003

And yet another letter of mine was printed in The Record's opinion pages yesterday. I wonder if I can get frequent flyer miles for all of them? :-) This one was about my experience as a deputy returning officer for a poll in the recent Ontario provincial election.

Low turnout in election is a deep concern

I'm not sure what to think of the results of the Ontario election on Oct. 2. I voted Green but I think that the Liberals are an acceptable replacement to the Tories, who I disliked.

What bothers me, however, is the lack of voter turnout. I was a deputy returning officer for a poll, and at 5 p.m. I was wondering if even 20 per cent of the voters would show up. The poll next to us had had twice as many people by that point. At 8 p.m., when the polls closed, I did my duty as a returning officer and counted all the ballots. Total turnout for my poll was 39 per cent and I went home disappointed but hoping that this was an anomaly.

As I flicked past the post-election analysis, I came across a station whose talking heads were estimating a 48 per cent turnout based on the polls so far reporting. Less than half the electorate turning out for the vote is not just terrible, it is shameful.

Bill Hurst said in his letter to the editor on Sept. 23 that he wasn't going to vote because he doesn't like the way in which we choose our elected officials. To me, a reason like that is just an excuse to deny being lazy. If Hurst truly wanted change, he should participate by either refusing or spoiling his ballot. If significant numbers of people did that, the politicians would take notice.

People who don't vote lose the right to complain about the process or the new government. After all, if they don't like it, why didn't they participate?

If you didn't vote or you didn't refuse or spoil your ballot, don't come complaining to me when something about the government bothers you. I'll just do my best to make sure that when I say "Oh, poor baby" that it is only midly condescending.