With my Amendment to the Voters List form in hand, I walked into my Ward 5 polling station, ready to scratch the “X.” Exciting, right?
After casting my vote, I handed my ballot, safe in its security envelope, to Poll Supervisor Carol Droeske, who fed it into the machine where it was scanned and counted along with many others.
Being a journalist, curiosity is in the job description, so I asked for some numbers. Of the possible 2,013 people who could visit the same Ward 5 polling station as me, by noon on the 25th, 108 had already cast their votes. According to Droeske, that number is quite high.
“The turnout has been quite heavy so far,” says Droeske, “more than in previous years.”
This surprised me as 108 people only makes up 5% of the maximum number of people who could visit there that day. Sure, it was only noon, two hours gone out of the possible 10 hours people had to vote but, if it continued on at that rate, it would mean only 25% of the people for that section of Ward 5 would show up to vote.
Is that good?
Consider that in Brantford’s last municipal election, in 2006, of the total 60,966 eligible voters, 27,155 ballots were cast, which is a voter turnout of 44.54%.
Federally, in that same year, voter turnout was at 65% – over 20% higher than in Brantford.
But for me, the focus was obviously on you guys, the students. How many of you went out to vote?
My fingers are crossed that a lot of you cast your ballots on Monday, but something tells me I’m being unduly optimistic. Election day turnout for students has been historically low.
But if you did vote, then you get a pat on the back from me; we exercised our democratic right and if something doesn’t go the way we like it in this city, we have every right to complain about it. And on the brighter side, if something great happens in this city, we can say we had a part in it happening.
Those of you who didn’t… Well, I wish I had better news for you but you just missed the one chance in your four years at Laurier to make a difference in this city.
So what to do? How can Brantford’s voter turnout be increased in the future?
In my opinion, other than making the vote mandatory, there isn’t much that will change people’s minds if they don’t want to vote.
Deputy Returning Officer Lee Ann Ferras at my Ward 5 polling station suggests getting students on the voters list earlier, which would save them having to fill out the Amendment form at the poll.
“It gives them the option,” says Ferras. “For some people, it would bother them to have to fill out the form. They won’t want to wait in line and just won’t come.”
It could work, Lee Ann, but it didn’t this year.
Regardless, the election is over and for me, and for those of you who did make your “X,” we can raise our glasses to influencing the fate of this city for the next four years. So cheers to you.