As I was driving into the Cornwall a few days ago, one of the local radio stations was reporting on the percentage of Canadians that exercise their democratic right to vote. The numbers they were quoting were rather disturbing. It appears that many of us no longer think that voting is that important. The morning after our last election(Oct. 14, 2008) our National Post reported:
“Nearly 10 million eligible voters took a pass on casting a ballot Tuesday, plunging election day turnout to a historical low, according to preliminary Election Canada figures.
Only 59.1% — or 13.8 million out of 23.4 million — of eligible voters made the trip to a polling station, breaking the previous low from the 2004 election that saw a 60.9% turnout, according to the preliminary figures. Nearly 10 million eligible voters took a pass on casting a ballot Tuesday, plunging election day turnout to a historical low, according to preliminary Election Canada figures.”
Apparently we have dropped from almost 80% in 1958 to less than 60% in the last election. As we watch others around the world envy our democracy, and literally fight for the same rights, it is hard to imagine what they must think of our behaviour. It is imperative that we recall the old and very true saying: “What you don’t use, you loose.”
Now that I have had my little say, I would like to point you to a set of guidelines that our Canadian Bishops have put together to help us in exercising our democratic right to vote: They begin their document with these words:
Canadian Catholics are being called upon as citizens to exercise their right to vote. The Church encourages and reasserts its belief in “the political freedom and responsibility of citizens.” By exercising their right to vote, citizens fulfill their duty of choosing a government and at the same time send a clear signal to the candidates being presented by the political parties. (Read full text of Bishop’s Guidelines, it is well worth it)