“Elections determine who is in power, but they do not determine how power is used.” ― Paul Collier
It’s been the worst luck – or the best depending on your perspective – that the lingering night cough and laryngitis from the cold I had in the end of October, has kept me from actively blogging as much as I would like to about the election this year. Depending on what day you catch me, I might sound like anything from a squeaky mouse to an 80 year old smoker, or reduced to a complete whisper. It’s tiring, and my phone has been a God-send while resting, but is not conducive to writing full posts here on the blog.
However, the ongoing election antics in this years municipal election rival anything I’ve seen,anywhere, in past years. In a city that has an ongoing record of low voter turnout, it’s incredibly problematic because the last thing we need is to disengage already cynical and suspicious voters with stunts that detract from serious issues.
A tent was set up outside a polling station, and food and drinks were handed out,within the designated guidelines prohibited by Elections BC. In speaking with several voters who had gone to vote, it is clear that RCMP ultimately had to attend with officials to shut the tent down.
Several voters and opposing candidates have made unproven allegations that this tent was set up either by supporters of the Safe Surrey coalition or the coalition themselves – that team has as of the time of this post, remained silent on those allegations made. Several photos have been posted of RCMP attending the tent on social media sites by both opposing slate Surrey First and a candidate running with One Surrey.
The candidates guide issued by Elections BC makes it very clear on page 24, that vote-buying/influencing and campaigning near a voting place are offences and carry stiff penalties of both fines and or jail time. Ultimately I believe that regardless of what occurred, complete denials of knowledge of this tent and a distancing from any supporters who might have done this, is what we are going to hear. Or they simply might say nothing at all and ignore the entire issue.
Either way, it’s unethical and shows a complete lack of respect of the rules governing the election process when supporters of any candidates, brazenly flaunt them.
That wasn’t the only foul-up yesterday, as another candidate reported that the voting machines stopped working at one voting location yesterday:
So we’ve had the incorrectly printed ballots voting snafu, and now voting machine issues. This occurred in the last election as well on the evening of voting day and I’m concerned that it has come up again this election in an advance vote. Regardless if the votes collected are held in accordance of the law, questions as to why these voting machines seem to have ongoing issues need to be asked. Voters deserve to have the full assurance that all due process is being followed and that votes are being held securely at all times if the machines stop working.
Personally, if the machine stopped working and I was asked to put my ballot elsewhere, I would refuse and hold onto to it until officials determined what the issue was and how it was going to be handled.
Advance voter turnout has been strong this year, much like it was in the last election and residents are eagerly predicting that this means a record turnout overall in next weekends vote.
While I would love for this to be true, let me remind you of the 2011 election where advance voting shattered records…. and then we still ended up with a mere 70,253 votes being cast- a horrific turnout considering there were 279,051 registered voters. Lets not even discuss that our population is nearing or at the half million mark. Sadly, the civic BC info link with the 2011 voting turnout results has turned into an Error 404 link- if you have a copy, please send it along. http://www.civicinfo.bc.ca/Library/Elections/BC_Voter_Turnout%20–%20Elections%20BC%20–2011.pdf
Long story short, every vote counts and engaging new voters matters.Consider the implication now that candidates elected will serve the public for 4 years, instead of three – that’s a long time.
Voter malaise is fed and nurtured by politicians,candidates and supporters who engage in dirty politics. Hearing promises that can’t be filled, seeing stunts like this and the behavior of some politicians during debates is more likely to turn voters off then turn them on.
And for some reason, I can’t help think that’s exactly what some politicians would prefer.