Thursday, September 27, 2007

Don't be a Douchebag. Vote!

Yo! In case you couldn’t tell from the title, this is my MTV-esque rant about youth voting (note: for the purpose of this exercise, I will define youth as anyone under the age of 34. If this is you and you take offence to being referred to as youth, congratulations, you’re all grown up). You will notice I have very cleverly included the word “douchebag” to illustrate my irreverent attitude in an attempt to relate to my target audience.

If like me, you live in Ontario, you may be aware that we are in the midst of another “exciting” provincial election. If not, search “Voting Day: Ontario General Election” in Facebook. There is an event. It’s on October 10th. Click on “Maybe Attending”. Don’t be alarmed, that wasn’t voting… I’ll get to that part.

Yes, that was Chuck Norris. No, it has nothing to do with voting. I just wanted to make sure you were still with me. I’ll try to include more pop-culture references as we go along to keep things fresh. Before I explain why this election is particularly important, let’s briefly review the reasons why YOU should vote:

- By not voting, you let other’s speak for you
- You can Rock the Vote
- It’s your right
- If you’re not voting, then who are you electing?
- Apathy is boring

There. I think I covered all the national nonpartisan coalitions. Next, let’s go over three universal truths about youth:

1.) Youth are lazy
2.) Youth are stupid
3.) Youth are complacent

With these three points in mind, I think it would also be helpful to look at a few statistics:

- According to the Elections Canada report on the 2004, 38th general election: Just over 38 per cent of voters aged 18-30 cast ballots..

- Turnout is declining in Canada not because experienced voters are dropping out of the system, but because potential new voters are not opting into the system.

- The main conclusion of (the Pammett-LeDuc) study is that the recent decline in voter turnout will likely continue, if left unaddressed.

- Many studies suggest that this current generation which is choosing to note vote will continue to not vote in the future – this behavior may not reverse itself when people get older – they will continue to not vote.

Source: Apathy is Boring

I know your attention span is extremely low so hopefully I’ve included enough lists and point-form information to keep you from going back to YouTube just yet. Please try to stick with me for a little while longer… Oh and by the way, the Meg White sex tape was a hoax. The simple fact of the matter is that our generation is not being properly represented in municipal, provincial, or federal elections and we are being ignored by politicians because of it. Your opinion matters, your voice should be heard, and your vote most definitely counts.

Let’s get back to the task at hand: the upcoming provincial general election. I alluded to earlier the fact that this is an especially significant election. This is because we will be casting our vote on two matters – one to decide on the next provincial government, the other to decide on the future of our electoral process. It sounds boring and it is boring but it is also important. Elections Ontario has put together a really bad but informative flash video explaining the latter here. To me, this new process makes a lot of sense. It’s not perfect but I think it does a lot to address the problems of the current system. Put it this way, if the proposed new system was used in the last two US elections, George Bush would not be the President. It’s not a perfect comparison but you get the point. The new process has to do more with the popular vote and less to do with the electoral districts. In other words, there will be less bullshit.

When I talk to my friends about voting, there are two common things I hear: “All politicians are lying scumbags, so why bother?” and “I don’t know enough about each party to make an informed decision.” The first may be true but let’s face it, one of the lying scumbags is going to be elected whether you like it or not so why not have your say in which lying scumbag it is? All scumbags are not created equal. The second point is just silly. It really doesn’t take long to figure out which party best represents your values. And since we’ve already agreed that you are lazy, I will provide you with all the information you will need to become informed… even empowered if you will…

First off, here are the links to the main contenders but take what you read with a grain of salt because it is mostly marketing and PR crap.

The Ontario PC Party
The Ontario Liberal Party
Ontario New Democratic Party
Green Party of Ontario

I’ve found the best source of information is (unfortunately) found in the mainstream media. Here are a few good resources for comparing each party’s platform:

Toronto Star
CTV Toronto
Globe and Mail
National Post

Hopefully you’ve now armed yourself with enough information to make an informed decision come October 10th. You should now be out of excuses except for one: “ I don't know where/how to vote?” Hold out your hand little one and come with me (don’t worry. I don’t have a big blue van with blacked-out windows):

I’ve been avoiding the law, creditors, ex-girlfriend, etc… Am I on the list?
Where do I vote?
Who are my local candidates?
What should I bring?
I’m confused and have more questions.

I hope that this has been helpful or at least made you think. We may not be able to change the world right away but we can make our voices be heard. It’s time they know we are paying attention and ready to stand up for what we believe in. I’m not being dramatic here. Your vote will make an impact and it is important to us all. It should be important to you. Come October 10th; think to yourself “what would John Stewart do?” In case you don’t know the answer… He would fucking vote.

Disclaimer: Voting in the upcoming provincial general election will not guarantee you immunity from being a douchebag; it will only help prevent it. If you are unsure of your status, please consult the directory.