In the municipal election of 2009, 39.6 per cent of Moose Javians came out and cast their ballots.
While that number may seem high when held up against nearby municipalities of Regina and Saskatoon — with 25 and 27 per cent turnouts, respectively — it marked a general decline in participation from the previous election's 42.5 per cent, and is reflective of a greater problem in today’s society.
The problem is that people are taking their right to vote for granted.
Those familiar with international news might recall the allegations of vote fixing in Russia and Mexico earlier this year.
In Russia, opposition parties complained about “voter carousels”: the same individuals being bussed from one voting site to the next by President Vladimir Putin’s loyalists in order to vote, again and again, for the same candidate. In Mexico, a contender for the presidency was alleged to have bought votes.
In both elections, voter participation eclipsed 60 per cent, with Russia’s 2012 election drawing 65.25 per cent of the electorate to the polls, and Mexico’s drawing 63.1 per cent.
Even if one accounts for voter carousels, vote buying, and the fudging of numbers, the fact remains that the Russian and Mexican elections drew more voters than Moose Jaw’s most recent civic campaign.
In a free society that prides itself on self-governance, there is no way to justify almost two thirds of eligible voters sitting out. That sort of disengagement should be a mark of shame, not something for the people of this city to hold as a point of pride.
As seen in the letters, comments and complaints the Times-Herald receives, people are paying attention to the issues surfacing in this election and are concerned about its outcome. Why, then, is participation so low when it truly matters?
The ability to vote is defined as a right by the Constitution, but it is also a privilege for which people have toiled, struggled and sacrificed. Failing to make use of that privilege is an affront to the memory and lives of those people.
Benjamin Franklin, generally regarded as a wise man, once said, “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.”
In the forthcoming municipal election, Moose Javians, be the well-armed lamb. Get involved, get engaged, and most importantly, get to the polls.
All Times-Herald editorials are written by the editorial staff.