Our View: Voters leaving system behind

If the aim is to engage more of the electorate, getting citizens involved at a young age is a great idea.

If the aim is to engage more of the electorate, getting citizens involved at a young age is a great idea. But the province’s plan to register 16-year-olds two years before they’re eligible to vote is missing the point.

The idea of providing high school students with a better understanding of our system of democracy is something that should have been done long ago.

With dismal numbers in last weekend’s municipal elections across the province, and turnout dropping routinely at both the federal and provincial polls, it’s time to take a long look at what role citizens want to play in government.

The current concept of electing candidates and essentially giving them the keys to the cupboards for three years has served us surprisingly well.  But most people aren’t comfortable with the idea of voting in a benign dictatorship, which in many ways is what we do – at least at the federal and even provincial level. Rather, the electorate prefers to have confidence that it holds the hammer, ready to wield it on any government that pushes its luck a little too far over a term in office.

We also have learned to exercise our rights in other ways, exerting a collective will through the choices we make as consumers and in the causes we stand behind.

If anything, democracy seems to be thriving everywhere but at its most symbolic core – the ballot box. But why have we turned away from election days?

We think there’s more to it than oft-repeated excuse that people are “electioned out.”

Perhaps a better reason is that citizens want to feel like they are engaged and that they can contribute in ways that are tangible.

One of the inevitable changes coming to the way we pick our politicians is by allowing online voting. This is actively being implemented by jurisdictions around the country and already being done elsewhere in the world.

We’ve already seen with the last census that there are ways to engage citizens securely, and in a way that keeps individuals from being counted more than once.

It’s time for our democratic system to catch up to the rest of society.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A 23-foot sailboat that broke free from its anchor was smashed against Cattle Point during the early October south-easterly storms. (Ron Geezin Photo)
Storm-smashed boat pulled off rocks of Cattle Point in Oak Bay

Sailboat a casualty of last week’s big storms

More than 250 riders took part in the fifth annual Tripleshot CrossFondo, which riders across parts of the Saanich Peninsula, including this field near Sluggett Farms. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Tripleshot CrossFondo rides across Saanich Peninsula

More than 250 cyclists took part in mystery-course race

City of Victoria crews will soon be gathering up fallen leaves in neighbourhoods and city parks. First up on the pickup list are the James Bay, Fairfield, Rockland, Gonzales and South Jubilee neighbourhoods, starting Oct. 19. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Victoria city leaf pickup a sure sign of fall

Residential pickup begins Oct. 19, drop-offs can happen anytime at city yard

Local New Democrat Zeb King welcomed Premier John Horgan during a brief photo opportunity in Sidney Monday afternoon (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
NDP leader John Horgan predicts party will ‘flip’ Saanich North and the Islands

Incumbent MLA Adam Olsen calls Horgan’s claim ‘bold’

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Greater Victoria in high-demand on website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

(File photo)
RCMP: Two men face charges in reported Parksville fatal hit-and-run

Investigation into man’s death began in August of 2019

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Steven Michael Bacon pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder of Nanaimo teen Makayla Chang. (Photos submitted)
Accused pleads not guilty in Nanaimo teen’s 2017 murder

Steven Bacon appeared in Nanaimo court Monday via video link from Thunder Bay

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Kootenay couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Most Read