BILL McQUARRIE PHOTO Have some thoughts about Bill McQuarrie’s latest North Island Rising column? Email editor@northislandgazette.com and we will publish your opinion online and in print.

North Island Rising: A very powerful voter

There is another non-voter though that I would love to see back in the voting booth.

Welcome to the end of September and the start of crazy season; that time of promises that will likely not be kept, misrepresentations, and alternative facts that is otherwise known as election time.

Mixed in with the now standard leadership theatrics of political misdeeds, name-calling and uncovered scandals, will be the obligatory call for mandatory voting. You are likely familiar with the messaging which always includes a dash of shaming, a pinch of nostalgia, a tablespoon full of war stories about the fight for democracy and a heaping reminder of the dire consequences of not voting.

What no one ever mentions or even considers is, what if someone – and I can think of no delicate way to put this, so – what if someone is too ignorant to vote? What about the people who wouldn’t know a political party if it fell on them? What if the only platform they are vaguely aware of is the one Vancouverites stand on while waiting for Skytrain? What if they’ve never read a newspaper, listened to the news, watched a political debate or know the difference between the House of Commons and the House of the Rising Sun?

When we talk about mandatory voting, seldom if ever do I hear the word, ‘informed’ being used and that doesn’t sit well with me. If you aren’t informed, don’t know, don’t care and don’t want to know or care, then I say, don’t vote. I really don’t want those who have no desire or interest in contributing to our future to be part of the shaping of that future.

Do you seriously want to make not voting illegal for these people and if so, what is achieved by forcing them to do so? I see no upside to that scenario.

There is another non-voter though that I would love to see back in the voting booth. This voter was once a regular, one you could count on to listen, question, discuss and come polling day, cast that ballot. They had a preferred party but by no means was that relationship guaranteed or blinded by a dogma that required unquestioning tribal loyalty on voting day.

But along the way, something went wrong and gradually, the value of the vote was questioned more than the, who gets the vote. When the promises are suspect and alternate facts are the illusionary, feel-good bromide of the day, it is difficult not to think that optimism has indeed become so old school.

Many political leaders have learned that it’s okay to knowingly make election promises with no intention what so ever of keeping them. They’ve done it before, without serious consequence and will keep doing until there is a consequence. If the outcome of not being truthful is maintaining power and no one calls you out on it, then keep discouraging those who know better from voting.

And that is precisely why you must get back into the game and vote on Oct. 21. After all, an informed voter is far more powerful than any other voter.

Bill McQuarrie is a former publisher, photojournalist and entrepreneur. Semi-retired and now living in Port McNeill, you can follow him on Instagram #mcriderbc or reach him at bill@northislandrising.com

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