Would a lottery get you to vote? How about celebrity encouragement?

New report tackles low voter turnout in B.C. municipal elections

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      Did you vote in the last municipal election? If not, does the following sound familiar?

      "Demographically the non-voter is more transient, more likely to have a low income, more likely to speak a first language other than English, more likely to lack higher education, more likely to be young, and less likely to be connected to social networks in his or her community."

      Or, how about this?

      "Some non-voters choose not to vote in municipal elections because, rationally, the cost (or amount of work it takes to be informed and to vote) is too high and does not make sense. To these people, the benefits (let alone the ramifications) of voting or not voting are often unknown."

      Both passages are how a new report by the Vancouver-based Columbia Institute attempts to describe people who don't exercise their right to vote in "complicated" municipal elections.

      After all, voter turnout is less than 30 percent in most B.C. municipalities, as the April report, authored by Norman Gludovatz, notes. In 2011, voter turnout was 34.6 percent in Vancouver and 25.2 percent in Surrey.

      How to change this? Well, the report is titled Getting the Majority to Vote: Practical Solutions to Re-engage Citizens in Local Elections, so it offers several ideas.

      One of these suggested solutions is pre-registration of high school students.

      Another solution is to create incentives to vote, such as automatically entering voters in a lottery. (In Evenes, Norway, the prize was a travel voucher, and it resulted in an almost 10 percent increase in turnout.)

      "While a lottery may seem to some like an attention grab, it is a real-world solution that has been proven to work. There are no prohibitions against municipal governments’ advertising and encouraging citizens to vote; many municipalities already do so come election time. But people are more likely to get excited and to cast their first ballot if advertising and promotion inspire the imagination and go beyond simply providing information," the report says.

      The report also recommends municipalities increase "positive cues" about elections by "recruiting local celebrities and the media to speak positively about voting".

      Secure electronic voting and more advanced voting opportunities, and more research on non-voters are other ideas floated by the report.

      "There are many reasons why fewer and fewer are voting in municipal elections, but we do not need to accept that this decline is inevitable and permanent. There are beacons of light and practical solutions that have re-inspired and re-engaged people, and can continue to do so," the report concludes.




      May 6, 2014 at 5:54pm

      What would get me to vote is a political party who's public consultation process was legitimate, a party that plans for emergency response instead of traffic gridlock, a party with a realistic plan to end homelessness; a party that reflects what most citizens of Vancouver want.

      Advice to 'COPE' ...take a break from the infighting drama.
      Advice to 'Vision' ...kindly step down and recognize that your contribution has been a significant step away from democracy.
      Advice to 'NPA' ...get your act together and start kickin' ass!


      May 6, 2014 at 6:27pm

      What's wrong with a low voter turnout? A person who doesn't vote is indicating that they're deferring to the judgement of others. Is it really a good idea to encourage uninformed people to vote?


      May 6, 2014 at 9:00pm

      You couldn't get people to vote in municipal elections if it was a race between tits and bigger tits and they were giving out free samples.


      May 7, 2014 at 7:15am

      Great article, and interesting idea of offering a prize to some lucky winner that votes. How about a 5 star resort in Puerto Vallarta in December. When we are all starting to feel cold in the November election, the chance of winning a fancy trip to a hot place would make me want to pay more attention.

      If I Was A Lottery Winner.

      May 7, 2014 at 6:41pm

      Which Political Is Honest Today, And Is For The People ? Besides If I Won Big In The Lottery,The Government Won't Be Getting It That's For Sure.


      May 10, 2014 at 8:52am

      I think the only real way to get the vote out is for the politico's to campaign naked.

      Mike Andruff

      May 12, 2014 at 6:34pm

      We each need to be a part of the solution for an enhanced voter turnout.

      It amazes me, that we as Vancouverites are too busy to vote, we forget to vote, or choose note to vote, when the previous generation spent the blood of its best, and youngest, to provide for the very freedom that we enjoy today. At this rate, do we really have more time for a latte, than we do for a vote?

      When we look at voter turnout in the US, it is significantly greater than in Canada.This is likely due to to freedom still being paid for with American lives, in current times. They get it.

      Many in this city will pay $25,000 to have lunch with the "political flavour of the month" to curry favour, I wonder how many of these benefactors would selflessly pay for enhancing democracy?

      Can we really buy democracy, or is the disenchantment with self serving politicians enough?

      I encourage all eligible voters to book an appointment on November 15th with their polling station, learn about the candidates and the issues between now and then, and support those that best suit your interest, and accordingly, VOTE!