gordon.dewis.ca - Random musings from Gordon


It’s October 10th. Have you voted?

October 10, 2007 @ 09:00 By: gordon Category: Current affairs

So, it’s Wednesday, October 10th, 2007. That means that if you’re a registered voter in the Province of Ontario and haven’t vote yet, you haven’t done your civic duty. If you have already voted, thank you.

Depending on where in the province you live, you probably have at least three or four candidates to pick from. How you vote is entirely up to you. Some people vote based on the candidate’s party. Others vote for the candidate based on who the person is, regardless of their party. Still others cast their vote because someone they know voted for the same person. Undoubtedly, some people vote based on the order the names appear on the ballot. I’ll bet there’s even someone out there who flips a coin or throws dice to determine their vote.

And there’s a disturbing number of people who do not vote. For whatever reason, these people have decided that their vote doesn’t matter or perhaps they genuinely don’t care. These people do not get to complain about anything the government does until such time as they do cast a vote, which is probably in three or four years.

Oh, and there’s a very small number of people who find themselves in extenuating circumstances that prevent them from voting, such as being unexpectedly out of town on election day. If you’re one of these people and you intended to vote, that sucks.

For the rest of you, I can’t encourage you enough to get yourself down to your polling place and fulfil your civic duty by casting a vote for your preferred candidate and your vote on the referendum.

The polls are open from 9am to 9pm Eastern, or 8am to 8pm Central if you’re in the extreme western part of Ontario.

According to Section 6 of the Election Act, everyone is entitled to three consecutive hours within which to vote. So, if your normal work day doesn’t give you three consecutive hours before or after your working hours, your employer is required to give you enough time off that you have three consecutive hours within which to vote and they’re not allowed to dock your pay while you’re off voting:

Employees to have three consecutive hours for voting

(3) Every employee who is qualified to vote shall, while the polls are open on polling day at an election, have three consecutive hours for the purpose of voting and, if the hours of his or her employment do not allow for three consecutive hours, the employee may request that his or her employer allow such additional time for voting as may be necessary to provide those three consecutive hours and the employer shall grant the request. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.6, s. 6 (3).

Deduction from pay prohibited

(4) No employer shall make any deduction from the pay of any employee or impose upon or exact from the employee any penalty by reason of his or her absence from work during the consecutive hours that the employer is required to allow under subsection (3). R.S.O. 1990, c. E.6, s. 6 (4).

Time off best suiting convenience of employer

(5) Any time off for voting as provided in subsection (3) shall be granted at the time of day that best suits the convenience of the employer. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.6, s. 6 (5).

If you don’t know where to vote, you can find out online at the Elections Ontario website (www.elections.on.ca). Click here for a direct link to their “Where Do I Vote?” page.

If you don’t know who’s running in your electoral district, you can find out on the Elections Ontario website by clicking here.

If you still need help, you can call Elections Ontario toll-free at 1-888-ONT-VOTE (1-888-662-2629).

Finally, to draw on something John Hollins, Chief Electoral Officer of Ontario, said this morning on CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning show: Get out and participate in democracy. Cast your votes for your candidate and the referendum. Or just the candidate. Or just the referendum. Or, if you truly can’t decide, go to your polling station and exercise your democratic right by declining your ballots because even that is participating in the democratic process.

Get out and be heard! Go vote! Now!

4 Responses to “It’s October 10th. Have you voted?”

  1. Eric Jacksch says:

    While I agree that more people should involve themself in the process, urging people who are otherwise disinterested to just go out and vote is a huge mistake.

    We need informed participation by a larger percentage of the population. People just showing up at the polls without understanding the issues and the various candidate’s position are harmful to the process — they might as well be rolling dice. While I would certainly never discourage anyone from exercising their democratic rights, those people who really don’t care, don’t know what the issues are, and don’t know what the candidates and their parties stand for are doing the right thing by staying away form the polls.

    So on the off chance that you’re reading this blog today and you haven’t a clue who to vote for, that’s okay. Sit this one out. Perhaps in about 3.5 years you’ll get interested in how your province is being managed.

  2. gordon says:

    It’s not too late for someone to educate themselves on basic information about their candidates and the parties they represent, just as it’s not too late to read about the referendum question. To say to someone “sit this one out” sends the message that it’s acceptable for them to not participate in the process and will probably cause them to “sit out” the next election. And that will reinforce it for each subsequent election.

    Everyone has the right to vote, regardless of how they arrive at their decision and regardless of whether you approve of their decision process. To put up the barrier of “you must be –>this< -- informed before you can vote" will scare away some people who prior to your litmus test knew how they were going to vote and why, but decide that their reasons are silly or unacceptable (to you) because perhaps they don't understand the nuances of every last issue under the sun. Their vote is no more or less important than yours. So, if you're reading this blog today and you haven't a clue who to vote for, don't sit this one out. Visit the Elections Ontario website (http://www.elections.on.ca), find out who is running in your electoral district, visit the candidates’ websites and learn about what their parties stand for. And visit the Ontario Referendum website at http://www.yourbigdecision.ca, which is run by Elections Ontario, to learn about the referendum question. Then decide which candidate or party most represents your point of view and also decide which system of voting you’d like to see used in future Ontario elections. Next, head down to your designated polling place with a piece of ID and make your opinions heard by casting your vote. Your vote counts!

    Finally, the Chief Electoral Officer of Elections Ontario said on the radio this morning that if you truly don’t know who to vote for or you want to refuse to vote, you should still show up, present yourself to the polling officer and decline your ballots.

  3. Eric Jacksch says:

    I didn’t suggest any barrier or litmus test, nor did I suggest in any way that my vote was more important than anyone else’s. You’ve missed my point entirely, so let me state it more simply:

    Your underlying assumption that everyone should vote is wrong.

    Everyone has the right to vote. They also, at least in this country, have the right not to vote, and you should start respecting that right. Not only is it completely acceptable to choose not to participate, but in some circumstances it is the right decision. It goes without saying that anyone who wishes to vote should do so, and many Canadians have put their life on the line to protect that right. However, on the other hand, nobody should feel that they have to vote if they don’t want to.

    In an ideal world everyone would take the time to educate themselves on the process, issues, candidates, and parties. Everyone would come to their own conclusion about how they want things run and cast their vote accordingly. And, if our form of democracy was better than it is, every person would also feel that their vote counted.

    But we don’t live in an ideal world. Some people aren’t interested. Some just don’t care. Some prefer to have others make decisions for them. We all defer to others on some topics. Why should choosing our leaders be so different?

    Do I think it’s right for you to encourage people to participate in the process? Absolutely. But let’s encourage them to participate in the whole process. Showing up at the polls uninformed just because other people told you that you should vote isn’t really participating. Yes, you have the right to vote as you wish, but like most rights, having it doesn’t mean that exercising it is always a good idea.

  4. gordon says:

    And if you read what I said, you would notice that I said that if people truly do not know who to vote for or are not interested in casting their votes for whatever reason, they should show up at the polling station and decline their ballots when given them by the polling officer. That’s a valid choice that allows the person to opt out of casting ballots while getting them used to participating in the election and perhaps next time they’ll choose to cast their ballot. If you feel strongly enough about not voting, you should be prepared to walk up to the polling officer and say “I decline my ballot”. If you’ve ever gone to a meeting where there’s been a show of hands to decide something, there’s a show of hands “for” the issue, a show of hands “against” the issue and sometimes a show of hands for those who “abstain”. By showing up and saying you refuse your ballot your clearly indicating you’re abstaining.

    And though voter fraud isn’t usually a problem in Ontario, showing up and refusing your ballot means that your name is crossed off the voter list and your ballots can’t be fraudulently used by someone else.