Get out there and cast your vote Oct. 22

Laurie Snider
Notes from the Nest

He’s a bum!” “She’s a lame duck!” “Talk about a crook.” “He’s about as dumb as a bag of hammers!” “You call her a leader? She couldn’t lead a pack of dogs around a Milk bone factory!”

“Ya gonna vote?” “Na.” “How come?” “Won’t make any difference.” ” They’re all the same!” “Too tired.” “Can’t. Its bingo night.” “I’m getting my eyebrows waxed.” “I’m working out.” “It doesn’t matter anyway. My vote won’t change anything!” “I’m watching my show.” “Clipping the cat’s nails tonight.”

Ever since I’ve been old enough to vote, I’ve never missed an opportunity to cast my ballot in an election; federal, provincial or municipal. My parents taught me from a young age, we were blessed to live in a country where we were free to choose who we wished to vote for. It was a privilege and one not everyone in the world was allotted and for periods of time, even in our own country, not a right bestowed on all citizens. For these reasons, it’s something I’ve never taken for granted. I’m a firm believer, it’s my civic duty.

According to Elections Canada, following Confederation, in order to be eligible, voters had to be males, over the age of 21 and owners of property, over a certain value. Indigenous Canadians were allowed to vote, provided they were willing to give up their status and their status rights. It wasn’t until 1960, that this sacrifice, was no longer required. Several other ethnic groups, including Japanese and Chinese Canadians, were denied voting rights, until 1948. Certain groups continued to be excluded, based on race, until laws were changed in 1955.

Canadian women didn’t win the right to vote, until well into the 20th Century. Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba were first, in 1916, followed by Ontario and British Columbia, in 1917, Nova Scotia was 1918, New Brunswick 1919, PEI 1922, with Quebec coming in way behind the times, dismally not until 1940!

As disappointing as that is, it still beats countries in the world, like Saudi Arabia, who’ve only allowed women to vote, and only in municipal elections, since 2015. The catch was, they weren’t allowed to drive themselves to the voting stations, so unless theirs husbands consented to take them, they couldn’t vote regardless. Only since 2018, have they been granted permission to drive.

In many countries in the world, especially African nations or the Middle East, citizens especially women, face violence, frequently sexual, while trying to exercise their right to vote, making many opt out. There are also societal restrictions in some of these countries, such as requiring their husband’s permission to leave their homes, having to walk for miles to vote, with no one to leave their duties at home to, or not being able to be seen in public while expecting, that make voting difficult for many. Kind of makes getting your eyebrows waxed, seem like kind of a cheesy excuse.

In over 22 countries in the world, voting is mandatory. Citizens are required to vote, or they are fined. In Australia, every citizen over the age of 18, is required by law to vote or is fined twenty dollars. If they fail to pay their fine, they must pay a further fine of up to $180, or can be charged criminally.

Some 99.7 percent of North Koreans voted in their last election. They just weren’t given a choice, about whom to vote for. They were given a ballot with names already selected, by the ruling party. When they arrived to vote, there were two boxes for them to choose to place their ballot in. One to show support for the candidate and one for dissent.  Unsurprisingly, the candidates that had been pre-selected by the leader that Donald Trump recently fell in love with, miraculously, received 100 per cent support! There were no dissenters!

The Queen and her family don’t vote, although there is no law on the books, forbidding them from doing so. They just choose to remain neutral. The Queen may opt out of voting but astronauts don’t. They receive PDFs of their ballots in space and beam their secret choices back down to earth. Cool!

The beauty of living in a democracy is we don’t always get our way, but every four years we get another kick at the can. If you don’t like who’s in office then get out and vote, encourage others to vote, get involved or next time run yourself.

Still don’t believe your vote counts? Well perhaps you may be unaware during our last municipal election, our mayoral race was decided by a mere 3 votes!

In the words of Lyida Obasi, “My vote is my voice and the voice of all who struggled, so that I may have my voice.”  So, vote!

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