There’s a Laundry List of Problems with Canadian Elections, but Advanced Voting Isn’t One of Them

On the Globe and Mail website today Lysiane Gagnon wrote an opinion piece setting out with painful simplicity the antiquated, self-promoting and sanctimonious arguments of those such as herself who are against advanced voting. For those still interested, you can read it here:

The main thrust of her opinion is that people who vote in advanced polls are less informed than those who vote on polling day. She leaps to this conclusion by citing some hypothetical situations, and then some actual “dramatic events” from the 2015 campaign that were in reality some of the most uninteresting, stereotypical and predicable bits of news that anyone could have possibly concocted to happen to the Liberals and NDP.

The most offensive part of this opinion is the moralizing about how voting on polling day is superior to voting in an advance poll. People who vote at advance polls (myself included) are not trivializing the vote. On the contrary, I would challenge Ms. Gagnon that people who vote in advanced polls are likely to be more informed than those who wait until polling day. People who make their minds up a week before polling day probably have been paying attention to what the parties and their leaders have been saying and doing over the many weeks and months of official and unofficial campaigning. They are probably more in tune to the substance and detail of the record of what the parties and their leaders have done, and less focused on the desperate promises and polished sound bites that fill up the last week of our system of seemingly endless campaigning.

With all the problems facing Canadian democracy (minimal choice on the ballot, huge distortions from the principles of representation by population and proportionality, near complete dominance by party elites), it is nonsensical to blame voters for trivializing democracy in our country. Looking at the big picture of Canadian democracy and what needs to be fixed, its Ms. Gagnon’s opinion on this subject that I find particularly trivial.

Ms. Gagnon suggests moving advance voting to the weekend immediately preceding polling day. To which I say, why not try having advance voting available for both? That may be trivializing in her opinion, but if it gets more people out to vote, it seems like a good investment to me.

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