by Gail Wolverton
Been thinking about how important Proportional Representation is to our electoral system. I have no idea how many times I have heard…”why bother voting…nothing ever changes” and “by the time they count the vote here …the election is over.” I likely said those things myself. I would go to vote…but it was always because I was fed up with the current government and was hoping to vote them out by voting for who I believed would have a chance of defeating them. It was never that I believed in the party that I was voting for.
Then came Elizabeth May and I got to hear about the Green Party platform and it resonated with me. Still the problem existed…I would love for the Green Party to have more say in government and to gain seats, but if I voted for the Green Party “I was throwing away my vote.” What a cynical and pessimistic way to deal with the electoral process.
It all changed for me when Elizabeth was running for the Saanich riding and I learned about vote pairing, “vote swap.” I could ask someone to vote in the Saanich riding for Elizabeth May and, in return, I could cast a vote for their favoured party in my riding where there was no Green presence.
I tried for days online with Vote swap to find a pairing. I could see that so many people were swapping their vote. Finally, I got a pairing. I was to vote NDP in my riding and they in turn would vote Green in Saanich /Gulf Islands. I was ecstatic! I could hardly wait to vote! My vote was finally going to count. I, of course, wanted Elizabeth to get in but I remember feeling that the outcome was not as important to me as finally wanting to be involved in the electoral process and feeling positive, even eager to get to the polls.
So, what does this have to do with proportional representation? Imagine for a moment if every election one’s vote counted. Imagine that every trip to the polls was a positive experience. When I thought that my vote counted just the one time, it changed forever my attitude towards the electoral process. It filled me with a sense of personal power that I could vote for who my heart believed in and I could have impact.
Isn’t this how the electoral process should be? People need to feel empowered and vote for the party/candidate they truly want and know that their vote counts. We need proportional representation.