The Importance of Voting- Don’t Count Yourself Out
by Daniel Ciocca
September 19, 2018 |Voices
As a seventeen-year-old, I’m only a short year away from being eligible to vote. To some, the idea of voting fills them with excitement, whereas others may feel nothing at all. This lack of engagement is incredibly dangerous to our society.
The democracy that we take for granted today was not achieved overnight. All over the world now-democratic countries had to fight off those who infringed on their rights; whether they be imperialists, dictators, or monarchs. Those fighters looked at the possibility of democracy as a brighter hope for the future, and yet people today seem almost proud to announce that they did not vote.
The reason for this is that people have gotten apathetic towards voting in elections. In the last Quebec provincial election, only 71% of eligible voters made it to the polls according to Elections Quebec. 1.7 million people were registered but still choose not to vote. This, of course, has major ramifications. If those votes had gone to the PQ, for example, they would have won a majority government versus the actual result, which was a loss. When people don’t vote in elections, those who are elected feel no need to respond to the needs of their constituents, and as such, they become corrupt, and serve themselves rather than the public.
There are people that constantly complain about government-run institutions or about politicians themselves, but don’t see the irony in not voting. Voting for the candidate that reflects your views is the only way to truly bring about change in your community, whether it be on the municipal scale, or on the international scale.
Irritated by the pothole on your street? Vote for the candidate that prioritized transportation infrastructure. Appalled by the long wait times for medical procedures? Vote for the candidate that prioritized healthcare reform. If you are dissatisfied with the services provided by your government, but you don’t vote, you have no one to blame but yourself.
Though it may not seem this way on the surface, municipal elections are just as important as federal elections. Federal elections are paramount given that they give you the right to choose how your country acts on the world stage; and because it is your head of state that decides on major policy decisions that will affect the country as a whole. However, the importance of local elections should never be understated. It is your local representatives that will create real change in your day-to-day lives by reforming public transportation, creating new bylaws and ordinances. Your voice must be heard in these elections.
One of the excuses touted by those who don’t vote is that they claim that they will have no impact on the outcome of the election. This is entirely untrue. Even if it isn’t a one-point victory/defeat, your vote still counts.
This year’s provincial election is an important one. The last one took place 4 years ago, and much has changed in the political landscape since then. Relations with our strongest international ally have strained, false information is on the rise, and the state of international politics seems more sensitive than ever. As such, it’s more important than ever to do the research and vote for the candidate you have confidence in to handle the job in this brave new world. I’m not going to tell you how to vote, that’s not what I’m here for. What I am here to say is that it is your civic duty to do the research and make your voice heard.
As I mentioned, I’m 17 and I’m not eligible to vote. Because of this, it’s especially painful to me when I see the government make decisions that I do not support because I am powerless to directly change anything. Until June of next year, the only way I can bring about change is indirectly; writing letters, participating in events, and writing articles.
However, the majority of the people that’ll be reading this are 18 or above, and to those people, I implore you directly: do the research to see who you support and get out and vote this October 1st. It isn’t glamorous, but it’s important beyond words. It’s the only way to truly make your voice heard. I understand that this may seem hypocritical as I won’t be voting this year, but that’s because I can’t. But I vow to be at the polls in next year’s federal election, 2021’s municipal election, and every future election I’m eligible for.