Friday, September 30, 2005

Justifications, lame or otherwise

Ed comments in the previous post that it was a Telegram editorial critical of the mail-in voting process that points out that "One enterprising former St. John’s resident not only received a ballot, but voted from Iqualuit (sp), and boasted on the Internet about doing so." Obviously, I have to believe that's me, although they didn't state my name.

Ed points out that I violated the Municipal Elections Act. Several friends of mine (including one who is a law student) point out that I probably broke the law.

Possibly. Probably. But I would like to make one thing was never my intention to boast that I pulled one over on city officials and voted as an act of mischief. This wasn't a nose-tweaking gesture or meant to show-up people. It was never meant to be malicious. It was simply one thing - that I love to vote.

More than 50 per cent of people in the city couldn't be bothered. That's about the same number that weren't bothered during the last federal election in this province. And I will never understand it. Never. It infurates me when people don't vote. For those people who say that voting doesn't change anything, I want to slap them upside the head. Not voting certainly doesn't change much either.

I've always lived by this simple standard: "If you don't vote, you don't have the right to complain about anything the government does to you in between elections."

Ever since I turned 18 I have voted in all but one election that I could. The one I failed in was the 1997 federal election when I was working in South Korea. I did apply for my absentee ballot, but it never arrived. I complained to the embassy, but they said there was nothing that could be done. I'm still pissed about it even though the person I would have voted for lost by 7,000 votes. Doesn't matter. I still feel cheated.

I nearly didn't get to vote in the 2001 municipal election. I moved to St. John's from Clarenville on Sept. 1. I was told I hadn't been a resident of St. John's long enough to vote and that since I was no longer a resident of Clarenville, I couldn't vote there either. It was only when I called Municipal Affairs and threaten to raise holy hell if I didn't vote somewhere that they magically allowed me to vote in Clarenville.

Can I make justifications? Sure. I moved on Aug. 23. It's my understanding that I had to be a resident on Aug. 27 in order to vote. It's only four days, what's the big deal.
Or that I had been a resident the past four years, surely that counts for something.
Or that they sent me the damn ballot, so too bad, I'm using it.
Or that, ultimately, it didn't matter since none of the races were especially close; my one vote didn't decide anything.

But they're merely justifiactions. The fact is, I shouldn't have. But here's another fact - I love my city. I love being able to vote. If that makes me bad or a "criminal," well, I guess I can live with that.

1 comment:

Ed Hollett said...


Two quick points -

1. Don't sweat it. While it is fairly obvious that you broke the law (either s. 23 or 24 or the Municipal Elections Act), I wouldn't get too wound up about it. To prosecute you would require more energy and money than I think the city will invest. To go after you requires that they admit their system effectively violated the act as well. You'd have a field day defending yourself to the point they'd look dumb.

2. I have no problem with your motives or anythign else. Personally, I simply note that you did it, talked about, it got noticed but just remember - there are possibly 4, 000 people out there who also voted illegally. No one will ever know since the municipal voting system can't track them.