Ten reasons to vote in municipal elections

By Tracey Arial

With a municipal election now on in Montreal, I’ve come up with ten reasons to cast your vote for the key politicians whose decisions determine whether your community functions well and remains diverse or simply looks exactly like everywhere else.

As of September 5, we’re now officially in a municipal election campaign in Montreal. (See the official election notice). We vote on Sunday, November 3.

We’re also unofficially in a provincial election too. The best guess for that election is December 9. No notice has yet been filed.

During the last Montreal municipal election, only 39.4% of the people who were eligible to vote did so. Then Mayor Tremblay won with 38% of that, or a total of 159,020 votes.

During the provincial election, the voter participation rate went up to 74.6%.

These figures are both too low, but the municipal election results are truly pathetic. We need more people who care enough to research the candidates, attend debates and vote. But if your style is just to go in there and guess, that’s okay too. Whether you vote for people you trust, people you think can get the job done without bothering you or people who share your values, you need to vote. Even if you spoil your ballot by selecting all or none of the candidates, that’s still showing people that the issues matter and that you’re paying attention. You just don’t support anyone. No one has the right to know whom you voted for.

Taking the time to go into a ballot box and mark a ballot counts.

To encourage you, I’ve come up with ten reasons to vote in the municipal election on November 3. Some are earnest, some are meant to be funny. If I missed something, please comment below.

10) You have a chance to participate equally. If you’re a woman, it’s a chance to be fully equal in a society that’s still patriarchal. If you’re an immigrant or a member of a visual minority, you can show people that society is made up of diversity. If you’re religious, you can show that you’re politically active. If you’re a tenant, you can participate equally in a society that still gives more rights to landowners. (Landowners still have more rights: check out this notice to people who don’t live in Montreal.) If you’re a student, you can show that young people are just as responsible as their elders. If you’re homeless, elderly, injured or otherwise vulnerable, you can prove that you’re just as human as everyone else. Make voting a social act of rebellion in whatever way works for you.

9) Your vote can eliminate that of someone in an interest group. Some municipal politicians count on a low voter turnout because it enables them to appeal to a few active members of an interest group they know. When the entire population gets involved, they can’t cater solely to their friends.

8) You can wear whatever you want. This might be the last time.

7) You can scare the politicians. When more people vote, it takes longer to count the ballots and the possibility of wavering between candidates, of having closer votes, and of miscounts is higher. Politicians have to wait to see whether they were fairly elected or not. They have less of a chance of taking anyone for granted and journalists have more action to report. It’s more entertaining for everyone.

6) Bribes, if you take them, will go higher.

5) You’ll be more likely to understand the system. There’s nothing like taking on responsibility to force someone to learn things they really don’t want to learn. You might not like what you learn, but at least you’ll get to live in reality. Things can’t be changed if people don’t understand why they’re broken.

4) Your values have a better chance of being respected. Even if politicians lie to get elected, they might have to keep telling the same lies to stay elected. There’s a better chance they’ll do what most people want if they think they can get thrown out if they don’t.

3) The money gets better spread around. When an election seems close, businesses, bad guys and other influencers tend to pay a little something to everyone other than simply supporting the candidates they want.

2) You’ll make election officials work harder. The higher the voter turn-out, the longer they have to work. Think of it as a make-work project.

1) Municipal politicians are only ones between a diverse community that functions well and a collection of buildings that look exactly like everywhere else. They determine whether there’s space for homes, green spaces, jobs, schools, hospitals, social housing, places of worship, transportation and emergency services nearby. They decide who and how often the snow gets cleared, who fixes the roads and how frequently it’s done, who repairs our water mains and how we collect waste. They take care of our libraries, arenas and cultural centres. They set the vision for how high our buildings are and where they get built. They work with the police and the fire department to protect our businesses and homes. They know who works hardest in the community and under what conditions. They know who we are and how we want to live. You have the opportunity and the responsibility to select them. Please do it wisely.

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