OUR VIEW: Voter turnout still not healthy

North Saanich attracts most voters but Central Saanich and Sidney still at about one-third

Sometimes we wonder what it’s going to take for the public to get interested in municipal politics, at least at election time.

In Central Saanich, where the two campaigns for mayor were respectful of the other, but some of the councillor candidates drew rancour from members of the public, having only a third of eligible voters show up at the polls was perplexing.

It seems to indicate that, as with most issues, the people with axes to grind are in the minority.

In North Saanich, where two distinct groups of residents with divergent views on certain issues have materialized, a relatively healthy number of residents (41 per cent of eligible voters) turned out to cast their ballots, even without a mayor’s race.

The average resident, if there is such a being, wants to know their civic representatives are doing their best to do the right thing, but clearly, not enough of those residents make it a priority to help send those people to the council table.

One major contributor to the problem of low turnout is the fact residents have so many candidates to choose from. Sure, there’s no requirement to fill in the voter’s card with the full complement of candidates, but if a person is inclined to get as far as the ballot box, they’re likely going to do their best to select as many as possible.

We wonder whether it’s the prospect of having to actually do some research on candidates that scares so many people away from polling places. The fact provincial and federal elections also continue to suffer from low voter turnout — they run in the mediocre 50-per-cent range most times — seems to indicate there is more to it than having a high number of candidates to choose from.

Regardless of the reason, municipal elections are done for another three years and the residents who cared enough have demonstrated their interest in their communities at the ballot box.


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