Friday, October 10, 2008

Canadian Elections IV

As I've been outlining in my previous posts (I, II, III), I'm deliberating on whether or not I'll be voting this election. Without totally re-hashing the reasons why I'm even having this debate with myself and others, suffice to say that part of my reasoning has been to enter into discussion about some of the inequities embedded in not only the electoral system (e.g., first-past-the-post, no party that fully represents my views, colonial heritage, etc), but also in Canadian society more generally.

However, as these discussions with my friends have progressed, both in support of and against my loosely-articulated position, I've begun to shift my own opinion. While I'm not entirely surprised, as I mentioned previously I've been here before, I'm leaning towards a new resolution to the problematic.

First, I've decided to step down as Deputy Returning Officer (DRO) in my Ottawa Centre riding. I won't get paid for the three-hour training session I went to, but besides being uncomfortable with upholding some of the regulations (e.g., citizens-only, no face coverings, etc), I'd rather spend 15 hours of my time working on my own work than working for Elections Canada. And, if I give up my spot it'll open a spot for someone else who might need the money more than I do. So, while being a DRO was to be a central plank in my expanded election coverage, I'll be taking it all in from another vantage point.

Second, according to all polls and even progressive voting sites, my riding is a safe NDP riding. MP Paul Dewar is poised to win again. Good for him and the NDP, in fact, I like living in an NDP riding. Knowing this and the way the first-past-the-post system works, my vote will be relatively worthless in terms of electing someone, even though it is kind of fun to vote for a winner for a change.

Because of this, I feel free to play with a couple ideas to operationalize my protest beyond writing about it here and chatting about it with friends. The first idea arrived on my lap via two friends, both of whom record their protest by writing it on the back of the ballot on election day. I'm seriously considering this option, given my general resistance to voting and the fact that the NDP, the only party I'd vote for anyways, will win my riding. Having been trained as a DRO, I know that DRO's must record why a ballot was rejected in the official poll book. So then, this option allows me to participate and protest at the same time.

The next option has come to my attention through facebook. There's a vote-swapping group that allows, say, someone living in Ottawa Centre willing to vote Green swap their vote with someone, say, in Oshawa, where the NDP lost to the Conservatives by 500 votes last time around. So, I vote Green for Jessica in Oshawa and she votes NDP for me there. Pretty straight-forward, though it probably works better when it's a NDP-Liberal swap, since the Greens only have a chance of winning in a handful of ridings in Canada. But there's no way I'm voting Liberal.

The other options are a) not to vote at all and record my protests in the ways I already have been and will continue to in the work I do or b) to vote NDP straight-up. But, as I've been suggesting, at this moment in time right now, I'm leaning towards writing in a protest vote or vote-swapping, primarily because it's innovative and it strikes me as a different kind of protest.

So then, I'll be back soon with more reflections.