Monday, May 2, 2011
Voting Is Sexy
Today is the day in which Canucks get to choose our new head honcho.
For those unfamiliar with our system, the easiest way to explain it is this: Every area of space and population is called a riding (similar to U.S. Congressional districts) We vote on our local candidate, also known as a Member of Parliament. Whichever party has the most Members chosen heads the government. Provided that the leader of the party is also chosen in his or her riding, he or she becomes Prime Minister. (If the party leader fails to win local election, another higher-up who did win locally will be chosen P.M.) There are no weird midterm elections for MPs or other big government shenanigans. What you see is what you get.
As you might expect of someone who writes about both domestic and foreign politics, I've already voted. I've also prompted everyone I come into contact with to do so. A few people offered up reasons why they thought they couldn't vote and I've set them straight. Nearly everyone is entitled to vote in Canada provided they are Canadian citizens.
The most common reasons I was given were related to criminal records and residency. A lot of folks are under the impression that you cannot vote if you have a criminal record because certain convictions restrict voting rights in the U.S. Well, Canada is different. You can vote if you have a criminal record regardless of the offence you were convicted of. The only circumstance in which you cannot vote is if you are currently serving a federal prison sentence of 2 years or more in a correctional institution. If you are serving a sentence, you probably will have voted already by mail-in ballot and won't be reading this blog.
Next, on to homeless voters. Homeless people can also vote. all you need to do is use the address of a shelter or soup kitchen. If you can't get a letter from a social service agency, you can swear an oath in front of an elections officer as long as you bring a witness who is an eligible voter in the riding where you plant your sleeping bag. This also works if you are moving, in a nursing home, or have insufficient or expired identification.Basically, if you want to vote, there will be a way.
Today's not a day for me to tell you who to vote for, but if you're Canadian and over 18 and don't vote, I will most certainly judge you. There's no excuses not to vote other than apathy and sheer laziness. Your vote does matter- Ujjal Dosanjh won Vancouver South by only 22 votes in the last election and the riding I reside in is expected to be similarly close. There are people all over the world who live under regimes where their choice is restricted or denied; don't take this most sacred right for granted.
You only have a couple of hours left to use your voice. If you don't get out and vote, I want to hear zero complaints about the government for the next 4 years.
Posted by Michel-Exildas Galipeau at 16:37