BRITISH COLUMBIA

Will You Stay Silent On Election Day?

05/14/2013 05:36 EDT | Updated 07/14/2013 05:12 EDT
CP
Heather Mitchell can't imagine not voting and worries about insulting the rest of the people in the province if she decides, as nearly most did in 2009, to stay silent on Election Day.

"It would feel disrespectful to the province, to all the people in the province to not vote," she says.

"I was listening to the radio this morning and people were interviewed and asked why they didn't vote and their responses just shocked me."

Mitchell said she can’t understand the excuses from the non-voters: that the issues weren’t understandable and all the candidates were just the same.

In 2009, Mitchell, who has always voted, was just part of a very slim majority. Only 51 per cent of eligible voters in that election, in which the B.C. Liberals won their third straight majority, cast a vote. While the number of people voting in advanced polls has risen steadily since 1996, B.C. has one of the lowest voter turnouts across the country.

- Voters hit the polls on B.C. election day

Indeed for the past few decades, the number of voters voting on Election Day has fallen during each election except in 2005 when it had a slight increase. That year, 58 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot. In 2009, just 51 per cent of those eligible to vote actually did.

Voting in her second election, Emily Lomax says she believes it’s important to vote even if she doesn't know the issues as well as she might hope.

"It's important as a citizen of Canada to vote even if you don't have an educated vote," she says. "I didn't educate myself that much on the issues but it's our responsibility."

Dan Dudgeon, who went to his polling station with his dogs and tied them up outside while he went inside to cast his ballot says he doesn’t understand why residents are apathetic about casting their ballot.

"It's pretty sad, it's pretty apathetic that folks don't go out and do their civic duty, civic responsibility yet those are the people who are the first to complain that the government got in that they didn't favour," he says.

Dudgeon says he thought the two major parties were both balanced and reasonable with a bit of negativity on both sides but that's what is expected in B.C. politics.

- 10 ridings to watch in B.C.'s provincial election

The B.C. Liberals led by Christy Clark is hoping to win their fourth term in government after first securing power in 2001 under leader Gordon Campbell. This is Clark’s first campaign as premier after she became the leader of the party in February 2010.

Her fiercest opponent is also running in his first provincial campaign as leader. Adrian Dix became leader of the Opposition NDP in 2010. The NDP last won a provincial election in 1996.

Voter Ryan Kenny says he's casting a ballot because he believes every vote counts.

"I voted today because I thought the election would be closer than it normally would be in elections in the past," Kenny says, adding he often didn’t vote in the past because it wasn't convenient.

"If you think your vote counts and it would by virtue of it being a close race, I think it helps in a democracy to have as many people participate as we can."

Kenny says he's felt guilty about not voting in the past and thinks there's some merit in a system like in Australian where voting is mandatory. But he still prefers to make the decision himself on whether or not to vote.

"As part of democracy, we should feel free to not vote as well," he says.

Tune into CBC for complete coverage of tonight's election results after 7:30 p.m.. CBC Radio One, CBC Television and online will bring you the latest as soon as the polls close.

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