Voting in Canada next federal election will take place over three days. That’s a great idea, but it doesn’t go far enough.
The changing of the voting day from one to three days is part of the deal the governing Liberals have struck with the NDP. In exchange for pharmacy, dental care and other programs, the NDP have promised to prop up the government, no matter how corrupt or morally depraved it becomes. (Okay, it might not be quite that blatant.)
The lengthened voting day is supposed to allow more people more tme to vote. It seems though that the proposal was not thought through. I mean, we have the technology, why stop at just three days? Why not make voting permanent?
Why not switch to online balloting? Give every voter a PIN number and encourage them to vote when they feel like it. Keep the tabulation current, and as long as the sitting MP is ahead, he or she remains in office.
This would keep them responsive to constituent concerns. Many, in ridings with close electoral margins, could find themselves replaced if a particular neighborhood decided they weren’t listening to the needs of their area. No waiting four years for the next election. Allow people to vote once in the calendar year.
Admittedly, someone turfed in this fashion would probably rally their supporters and be returned to office a few weeks later, but isn’t that what democracy is all about?
Think of the cost savings in moving voting online! One of the major expenses for Elections Canada is renting and staffing polling locations. The NDP proposal triples that, online voting would eliminate it. Everyone wins – the taxpayers save a few dollars and democracy becomes more transparent. That is if you trust the programming and can protect your system from hackers.
Politicians seem to be in perpetual campaign mode anyway, this change would just make it official. Why would anyone not want it?
There are, I suppose, a couple of problems.
The first is the Liberal track record of broken promises. Electoral reform was promised in 2015. Seven years later there have been no changes. If those who negotiated this deal seriously think the Liberal Party made promises in good faith and intends to follow through on them, I invite them to look at history. It is unparliamentary to say that Liberals lie, so I won’t.
The bigger problem though, it seems to me, is intent. If the idea is to increase voter participation by making it easier to cast a ballot, I doubt lengthening the polling period will have any effect.
It isn’t as if the current one-day voting day is the only time people vote. There are also advance polls, a three-day period, usually the weekend before voting day. That’s usually when I vote – and last year the advance poll was closer to my home than the election day location.
Voters also have the option to cast their ballot at the returning office during the writ period, any day except election day. I have done that when I was going to be traveling on election day and the advance polling days. So, in effect, there are already 35 voting days available. Adding a couple more is unlikely to increase voter turnout.
There is also the option to vote by mail. In the last election there were thousands of mail-in ballots not counted because they weren’t received on time. I’m not sure how an extra couple of voting days would encourage people to mail their ballots earlier or make Canada Post deliver them on time.
I suspect the Liberal negotiators were secretly laughing when the NDP made this a condition of their deal. Easy to promise, and no need to deliver.
After all, if they keep their side of the bargain the NDP won’t learn of the Liberal betrayal until the 2025 election – after the deal has expired.