Why I Vote
Hello, friends! Today's post is something of a departure from the typical topics on this blog, but it's about something near and dear to my heart: voting. In Canada, only 60% of the population voted in the last election. It is time for us to stand up, and make sure no one else speaks for us. Let's make this happen folks, it's time for change.
Every time an election in Canada rolls around, I watch my facebook feed flood with people urging those around them to get out and vote. While in many ways I echo that urge, I also would first say, educate yourself, and let your vote have meaning. But, the right to participate in our democracy is a precious thing, and one that shouldn't be taken for granted.
When I was a girl, I asked my Great Aunt Marg what was the most amazing thing she saw in her lifetime. I expected she would talk about plane travel, or computers, but she shocked me by saying the most incredible thing she saw was when women received the right to vote. I was stunned; I couldn't imagine a time when it wasn't my right, but that had happened within her lifetime. Not only were women not seen as equals, we were not seen as legally persons under the law.
I vote out of respect for the women who fought for me to have that right.
My Great Aunt Marg's words also made me think about the fact that there are many places around the world without universal suffrage to this day, where the ability to vote when it is finally achieved is greeted with joy, celebration, and long, long lines at the polling stations.
I vote because I am aware that it is a priviledge, as well as a right.
(This image is from the 1994 election in South Africa, after the end of Apartheid. People lined up for miles to exercise their right to vote.)
When I was growing up and I became aware of the inequities of the world and within my own country, and the political decisions that led to them, I became outraged. Even more infuriating to me was the apathy I perceived in so many of the adults I met. I called into CPAC at the age of 16 to argue in favour of lowering the voting age, because I knew so many of my peers that were more educated about the issues than their parents. I find it crushing that the youth voice is still the least represented of any group at the polls.
I vote, because there was a time my voice could not be heard.
It's easy for us to feel that voting will make no difference, that we are just one voice, one name, one number. In the last provincial election, my representative was elected by a mere 52 votes. It happened to be the person that I voted for. This was such a small margin that it came home to me, more than ever, that EVERY vote counts.
I vote, because I don't want someone else to speak for me.
I know that many people feel there is no one that represents them. These people feel that there is no reason for them to get up and vote. To these people, I say, ballot destruction is a political act, and an important one within our democracy. When you intentionally destroy your ballot, it is an act of dissent, and sends a message to those in power that they do not represent you. It also allows you the ongoing right to continue to complain.
I vote to express my outrage.
So, please, my friends, educate yourselves. Learn about your candidates, learn what the parties stand for. And please, I beg of you, exercise your democratic right, and vote.