Some By-Election Musings

Or, what if they held an election and no one showed up.

It’s been a week since the by-elections and I still can’t figure out what went on. OK, I get it that by-elections generally have lower turnouts than full elections, but to set two records for lowest turnout is ridiculous.

I’ve heard from the apologists who say things like they had to run the elections then because of the time limits, or the almost helpful they should have gone to the advance polls if they couldn’t vote on the 30th, but these don’t explain the incredibly lacklustre showings at the polls in Alberta.

The numbers from Ontario were far from overwhelming, but at 30% give or take a point or two the turnouts were not unusual for a by-election. The best result was in Trinity-Spadina where the Liberals hoped to take Olivia Chow’s seat from the NDP and they did. But this was hardly a major upset, that riding was Liberal before Ms. Chow and so it was more like retaking ground from the NDP.

But a win is a win.

On the other hand, if anyone should be suffering from election fatigue, it should be Ontario. After all there was a Provincial Election just run here and these two ridings are part of the ongoing electoral circus that is Toronto’s Mayoral Race which feels like it is going on to its 48th month.

So what in the name of Democracy happened in Alberta?

Granted, the timing of the by-election was a stinker. Setting the date as the Monday before the semi-fixed Canada Day Holiday on Tuesday was in my opinion a brain cramp of the highest order. Some people would get Monday off for a three day weekend, some would get a four day weekend, and how many people schedule their vacation for the first full week in July to get that extra day off? Don’t all these people working in the PMO get Government Issue BlackBerrys to stay in contact with each other? My not very smart phone has a calendar, surely theirs do too.

But no one said “Hey Steve, that’s the day before Canada Day?

Or was it part of the plan?

Generally low turnouts at the polls favour the incumbents, did they figure low turnout would help keep the incumbent party in place in Macleod and Fort McMurray?

In Fort McMurray it almost backfired, the Liberals increased their number of votes from the 2011 election and were for a while, threatening to take the riding.

Or maybe everyone just figured that since it was Alberta, the Harper Party was a shoo-in?

I don’t know.

If they had decided to hold these by-elections on the 23rd of June, would the numbers have been better? Something inside me says no.

When the Harper Party handed the Election Reform bill to Pierre Poilievre, I think they were looking at the whole thing backwards. We really didn’t need any new rules to keep people from voting, we do a fine job of that on our own. Maybe it would have made more sense if Skippy had set his mind to figuring out how to get people to go to the polls instead and then I wouldn’t be writing this.

Maybe we should give everyone who votes a free coffee and doughnut with a chance to win a new car.

We’d need a catchy name for that, though.




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