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Opinion: Mission voter turnout was an abysmal failure

Just 22 per cent
(Adobe stock photo)

Voter turnout is bad in most municipal elections, but 2022 is turning out to be worse than other years.

According to Mission Mayor Paul Horn, voter turnout was about 22 per cent.

In 2018, according to the site Civic Info, the Mission voter turnout was 31.7 per cent, well below the average of 35.6 per cent. Mission has just over 30,000 eligible voters out of more than 41,000 residents.

But voter turnout was down across B.C., with Burnaby logging just 19.76 per cent. Most cities reported a drop in voter turnout, including Surrey, Vancouver and others.

It’s frankly embarrassing.

There are people in certain parts of the world who are begging for the chance to vote in an election.

Here, so many people just don’t care.

This fact continues to blow my mind because there are so many decisions that city councils make that directly impact citizens.

Such as property taxes. People care about those, don’t they?

Policing – something that I know people care about.

Traffic. I’ve heard from so many people in the past few weeks about how bad the traffic has gotten in Mission, especially with trucks rumbling through the downtown (although to be fair, that’s something the province needs to fix).

And consider these numbers for a moment. While Jag Gill was re-elected nearly 5,000 votes, the other five city councillors received between 2,700 and 2,960 voters.

Garnering fewer than 3,000 votes gives five people power over so many vital issues in the City of Mission. I’m not saying the election isn’t legitimate, but that’s not many votes in exchange for that much power.

This isn’t new, of course. I’ve been covering civic elections since 1991 and voter turnout has always been way, way, way lower than provincial and federal elections.

There are a lot of theories why, including too many candidates to learn about before voting compared with only a few in other elections.

I just don’t get it. It’s only once every four years. These folks have a huge impact on our neighbourhoods with their zoning decisions and community plans.

I asked Horn about what he heard from voters during the campaign.

Once was a lot of anger and distrust.

Horn said he wants to restore some public confidence in government.

“It’s clear that some people are very angry and distrustful of government,” he said. “Rather than being defensive about it, we need to find better ways of connecting with busy people. If we can do it during a campaign, we should be able to do it the rest of the time too.”

That’s a good approach to this growing problem.

I just hope people are willing to listen and not just get involved after a city has approved a project in their neighbourhood.

RELATED: Meet the new face on Mission council


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Chris Campbell

About the Author: Chris Campbell

I joined the Victoria News hub as an editor in 2023, bringing with me over 30 years of experience from community newspapers in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley
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