EDITORIAL: Politicians to blame for low voter turnout

Talk of changing the manner in which we vote in an effort to increase voter turnout misses the point

This May 14, British Columbians will once again have the opportunity to determine the future path our province will take.

But with voting numbers having declined steadily for decades, clearly many among us are asking ourselves, what’s the point?

One can hardly blame them.

Our political parties often seem to be more preoccupied with taking cheap shots at each other than with the serious business of governance.

The provincial legislature is no longer a place for ideas to be debated, for legislation to be vetted and weighed, for compromise and consensus to be reached. Instead it is a three-ring circus of petty name-calling, jeers and barbs.

Such behaviour shows a lack of respect for the good people of this province for whom the Members of the Legislative Assembly were elected to represent.

What’s worse, when nearly all votes in the legislature fall along party lines, the outcome is predetermined. So why vote at all?

Certainly that’s the conclusion many British Colombians have come to, as only 50 per cent – a record low – bothered to cast their ballots in the 2009 provincial election.

Jurisdictions around the world have tried different methods to bolster voter turnout.

Some countries, such as New Zealand, have adopted a proportional representative voting system called single-transferable voting. You might recall it, as a majority of British Columbians voted in favour of it in 2005.

Other jurisdictions, such as Australia, have opted to make voting mandatory, with failure to do so resulting in a fine.

However, changing the manner in which we vote in an effort to increase voter turnout misses the point.

B.C. voters are disenfranchised because the hyper-partisan political atmosphere in Victoria disgusts them.

So come May 14 when we yet another dismal voter turnout, the politicians will only have themselves to blame.

– The South Delta Leader