I hear it all the time. Heck, I’ve even said it myself. In our first-past-the-post system, only a handful of the 308 ridings nationwide are really, truly up for grabs in the election. For the rest of us, it can be easy to say things like “my vote won’t count” or “it doesn’t matter” or, my favourite, “why bother?”
If, like most Canadians, you don’t happen to live in a swing riding, here are the top 10 reasons why you should go out and vote anyway:
10. The polls can be wrong. Even if you think your riding is a “safe” seat – either for your candidate, or for an opposition one – the polling data could be wrong. Your vote may well count more than you think.
9. Parties get funded based on the number of votes they get – roughly $1.75 per vote. By voting for your favourite party or candidate, you’re funding the party and strengthening it for future elections.
8. Voter turnout keeps falling, and was at a historical low of only 58.8% in the 2008 federal election. That means that the Tories were voted in by only 22% of eligible voters. To elect a government that truly represents the population, the population has to turn out and vote.
7. Get your issues heard. Voting for a certain candidate sends a message to other candidates and parties that your issues are important. This might affect how they vote on key issues in Parliament.
6. If everyone assumes that their vote won’t count, then maybe they’ll all stay home and your vote will actually count more than you think. Candidates have lost supposedly “safe” ridings before because of this. It could happen again.
5. Second place doesn’t matter? Sure it does. A strong second-place showing could mean momentum for a candidate or party next time around. It could lead the party to target the riding for more funding or election spending, believing that it is “in play”. It could buoy more people to vote for that second-place candidate next time, in the belief that there’s a chance of beating the incumbent.
4. Egypt. Tunisia. Bahrain. Saudi Arabia. Iran. Libya. All the people in the world out risking their lives to demonstrate for the right to vote, which we so casually take for granted.
3. Voting is a right, a privilege, and a responsibility of living in a democracy. Take it seriously.
2. If you don’t vote, you forfeit your right to complain.
1. If you don’t vote, you don’t get any chocolate cake.