There was one way in which the municipal elections were particularly disappointing, and that’s the number of people who actually voted.
While the Cowichan Lake area had some of the highest numbers of voters in the Cowichan Valley Regional District, as they often do, people shouldn’t pat themselves on the back just yet. (Unless you voted. That means you did your part and you can pat yourself on the back as much as you like.)
Because while the relative numbers for the Lake are certainly better than other areas in the CVRD, they’re still nothing to write home about. For the Town of Lake Cowichan, the estimated number of eligible voters, according to Civic Info BC, is 2,706. Just 1,330 of those, or 49 per cent, cast a ballot. Less than 50 per cent! And this, in an election where there were three strong candidates for mayor and many for council, to say nothing of the school district trustees and the two very important referendum questions.
In Area I (Youbou/Meade Creek), 42 per cent of voters actually cast a ballot. Woeful numbers.
What more does it take to inspire people to get out to vote? Surely at least one of those things, at least one single candidate prompted enough passion to take the very few minutes it would take to mark a ballot? Not having the time is not a valid excuse. There were two advance voting days and voting day itself. And if you couldn’t get it together to physically go to a poll there was always a mail-in ballot opportunity. Just the fact that it’s the public’s chance to steer the future of the community should be enough, one would think, and yet, vote after vote, it isn’t.
It’s a troubling trend. We are so fortunate in this country to be allowed to vote, unmolested. We take this privilege for granted. When we do that, we are basically saying we don’t care about our future, and someone else is welcome to determine it for us. There are all kinds of people who would be happy to do just that, impose their will on the populace. Not voting opens the door for those who would argue that we don’t need to have votes at all. “See,” they say, “people don’t care anyway.” It’s an invitation to tyranny.
Having a democracy requires us to participate. That is the (very small) price we pay.
So if you didn’t vote in this election, ask yourself why. If the answer isn’t compelling, resolve now to get out and vote next time.