Low voter turnout is a problem at every level of elections. (Illustration by Mohamed Hassan/Pixabay)

Low voter turnout is a problem at every level of elections. (Illustration by Mohamed Hassan/Pixabay)

Lack of interest in elections needs to change

As much as people want to complain about politicians, their interest in politics is rarely mirrored by the actual turnout of voters.

In 2018, only 45.33 per cent of the village’s 1114 eligible voters turned out to have a say in how the Fort is governed. Turnout in Vanderhoof was even worse, at just 37.21 per cent of the 3104 eligible voters.

Those numbers earned Vanderhoof and Fort St. James ranking 101 and 67, respectively, on the list of 160 B.C. communities reporting their 2018 election results.

At the extreme low end of the scale were Terrace, ranked 155 with a voter turnout of 17.77 per cent, and Zeballos, ranked at 160, which reported no voters at all.

At the top of the list is the small community of Tahsis, which reported a turnout of 90.32 per cent of their 248 eligible voters.

Low voter turnout isn’t a new problem, but that doesn’t make it any less of a problem. That’s not to say people should go out and vote blindly, but voter input is the very basis of our government system: people need to study the issues and decide which politician represents their views the best.

After an election, it seems everyone has an opinion, and that is good. But expressing those opinions via a vote is even better. Informed voters are the best way to prevent elections from simply being a popularity contest.

Through the ages, that has been one of the worst features of elections, both historical and modern. Often, the person who gets elected is not the most foresighted politician or the one with the best ideas, but simply the one who convinces the most people that he/she is the most likeable.

According to an Elections Canada report on election participation, “The lodestones of discontent are politicians and the government. There is a widespread perception that politicians are untrustworthy, selfish, unaccountable, lack credibility, are not true to their word, etc.”

That’s a massive perception do overcome, especially since entertainment media likes to reinforce it. The truth is, most politicians, especially at the local level, are good people, dedicated to a vision, whether that is just trying to provide good governance or a more specific cause.

People don’t get into local government to make money, at least not in smaller communities. There just isn’t that much money in it.

So, do your best to put your preconceptions aside and between now and Oct. 15, take the time to investigate issues and the people that are running for office in your community. Then take what you have learned and get out and vote.