Voter participation is dwindling. BC Stats has recognized that “across established democracies, the proportion of citizens who turn out to vote has been on a steady decline since the 1960s. British Columbia is no exception.
“The provincial average for the 2011 Municipal Elections saw 29.5 per cent of eligible voters take to the polls. Rossland, while higher than the provincial average, has also experienced a similar downward trend. In 2008, 51 per cent of eligible voters had a representation in Rossland’s Municipal Election, this fell to only 37 per cent in the 2011 election.”
A BC Stats report titled Exploring Voting Behaviour In British Columbia 2009, found that “a citizen is more likely to vote if they perceive that their vote will have an effect on the outcome of the election.” CivicInfo BC, who facilitates free information regarding local government across the province, estimates there to be 2,587 eligible voters in Rossland. Thirty-seven per cent of 2,587 voters are only 958 people! This is certainly a figure that makes it ironic when people say their vote does not count.
Todd Pugh, Executive Director of CivicInfo BC said, “Typically the smaller the community, the higher the voter turn-out.” In the 2011 municipal election, neighbouring towns Montrose and Trail similarly exceeded provincial voter turnout averages with 44 per cent and 31.5 per cent of eligible voters taking to the polls respectively.
The BC Stats 2009 report also found that 70 to 79 year olds are the most consistent voters. Rossland residents have a median age of 39.9, making this older demographic a small portion of eligible voters for our city. The bulk of Rossland’s eligible voters are aged between 30 and 59 years, accounting for an estimated 73.65 per cent of eligible voters.
The BC Stats report also found that those from households with higher median incomes, larger proportions of older individuals, and a greater proportion of university educated citizens are more likely to participate and be consistent voters.
Rossland’s community organizations and the City of Rossland are doing their part to ensure every eligible voter takes to the polls for the November 15 election. The Rossland Rotary Club organized an All Candidates Forum while the City has placed information in all post office boxes and the local grocery store encouraging residents to vote.
Squamish council candidate and former Arnold Schwarzenegger stunt double, Peter Kent, has gone one better and pledged to set himself on fire if voter turnout exceeds their 2011 level of 40 per cent. A pledge Rossland candidates will probably, and understandably, not be matching.
You can pre-register to vote at Rossland’s City Hall or at a polling place on election day. Two pieces of identification, including one piece with a signature are required. You must have been a Canadian Citizen and living in B.C. prior to May 13, 2014 to register to vote on general voting day.
This November 15 help steer the direction of your community’s future for the next four-year term by voting!