As it stands, right now, I refuse to vote for Toronto’s next mayor. This does not mean that I am not participating in the vote. Nonetheless, in this article I present to you a campaign. You see, I am campaigning against everyone who claims it's your democratic duty to vote.
I am fighting for my right not to vote.
And quite frankly, Nellie McClung would be proud.
I know, many women before me have fought for our right to vote. Canada’s female suffrage movement began in 1878 under the leadership of Dr. Emily Howard Stowe. The struggle carried on many years, and in 1916, Nellie McClung helped the women of Manitoba become the first in the country to vote.
Within nine years of Manitoba’s suffrage legislation, almost all provinces followed suit. Quebec of course, highlighting its honourable distinction, would not allow women the vote until 1940.
So, why is it now that I so fiercely choose not to vote?
Because there is not one candidate worthy of it.
Regardless who wins the election, I will be unhappy with the outcome. It’s like asking me if I want pork or chicken for supper. I am vegetarian. I choose neither.
So, with all the pigs and chickens in our municipal election, there is no point for me to vote.
No candidate is even deserving of the two quick strokes of my pen needed to form an “X.”
That said, I would venture to say that my participation in this election outweighs most Torontonians, including those who plan to tick the box.
The only thing I’m ticking however is one of my bud's, who is indeed quite ticked off.
He ascertains that everyone, including me, should vote, even if that means simply spoiling a ballot.
“At least your voice will have been heard, and you’ve exercised your democratic and civic right,” he says.
Allow me to exercise my voice:
First, I think the ballot is already spoiled by virtue of the candidates’ names listed upon it. If it weren’t already “spoiled,” trust me, I would take the few minutes to cast my choice.
Second, if each person who didn’t like a candidate chose to simply spoil a ballot, what kind of environmental statement would that make?
Third, it is also my democratic and civic right not to vote, thus exercising my freedom of expression (which, by the way, gets a very good workout in print, and possibly, an even better workout live).
Ultimately, for me, in this case, the ballot box might as well be a garbage bin.
I understand my friend has the best intentions. He wants people to be involved. He wants people to embrace their freedoms – opportunities that are still unafforded in many places throughout the world (places such as Zimbabwe, that are under-talked about and over-abused).
What he fails to understand is that by exercising my right not to vote, I am also embracing the democratic rights afforded to me as a Canadian. I may not have much of a choice for mayor, but I can certainly choose how I react to my options.
This is not to say that there isn’t a problem with voter-apathy in this country. Many people are too caught up in trying to catch up, in traffic, in paying bills, in hating their jobs, in trying to find jobs…
Some simply do not care. Some simply do not have time to care.
This is how hegemony thrives. (We’ll save that topic for another story.)
Voter-apathy is not really about voter abstention, it's about voice abstention. Moreover, voting for the sake of voting, or just to follow status quo is the most apathetic action one can take.
So again, just because I plan not cast a ballot, does not say that I will not participate in the election.
I’m using my voice. And like I always say, I write very loud.