Editorial: Voting in the federal election has already begun

Democracy isn’t easy. Sometimes it just isn’t fun having to weigh all of the options, paying attention to the many nuances of each candidate’s campaign and their party’s platform to come up with a decision on who to vote for—so some people opt to just give the whole thing a miss and don’t bother to exercise their franchise.

So many of our ancestors paid for the right to vote with their life’s blood, literally, that to eschew that right, especially for so frivolous a reason that it takes a little effort, seems like little short of a betrayal.

Much of the political advertising activity that is happening in the world today is aimed at disheartening voters—suppressing the vote of the economically and socially disenfranchised of society at a time when their actual enfranchisement, the right to vote, is the surest route to meeting the challenges of our society.

There are disagreements among the leading contenders in this election on how to solve those challenges. The Conservatives have their concepts, the Liberals theirs, the New Democrats have their own policies and paths to solutions, the newer Green and People’s Party of Canada also have put forward detailed policy proposals. The challenge is not, as some might suggest, that there are no choices, but to find the choice that most clearly delineates your personal values.

If, at the end of the day you cannot decide on a candidate to support, you can reject your ballot. Although there is no formal declined ballot in federal elections, such as there are in Ontario where there were 31,000 such “none of the above” choices made two election cycles ago, your ballot will be listed as “spoiled.” That is still a better message to send to the “powers that be” than the apathy of not turning up at the polls.

Some will suggest strategic voting, and that is a valid consideration under the first past the post system we use to select our representatives, but whatever strategy one uses to select their ballot choice it is imperative to the health of the nation that our electors vote.

Youth, the poor, Indigenous and the marginalized tend not to vote, and that is why so many of the political parties might feel safe in offering little more than lip service to the issues impacting those communities. Shake that complacency by voting.

For those whose minds are already made up as to who to vote for there are already polling stations available. The advance poll on Manitoulin is located in Little Current at 28 Water Street and that office is open from 9 am to 9 pm Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 6 pm on Saturday and from noon to 4 pm on Sunday. (As an aside as of Monday, the polling station still needs three people for the Little Current site, so if you are over 16, breathing and have some time on your hands for a paid gig, call 866-271-6185 and press 1 to be connected.)

The official advance polls will open on Thanksgiving Weekend, October 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14, 9 am to 9 pm. Those polls will take place at the Central Manitoulin Town Hall in Mindemoya and the Gore Bay Town Hall, otherwise, you can avail yourself of the Little Current office until 6 pm on October 15.

Whomsoever you should decide to cast a ballot for in this election, take up the pencil in memory of those who took up arms to ensure your right and freedom to choose. Taken together, your vote truly does count.