#thetimeisnow

X marks the spot Why voting isn’t an option, but rather an imperative

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By Katie Brent, Contributor

Canada is a democracy. Democracy is a fun little word that means that Canadians get a say in who runs the country and maybe even a say in what happens with it. 

So, because we’re a democracy, and a representative one at that, Canadians head over to the polls every four years or so to vote for who they want their riding’s member of parliament to be. The party that gets the most seats will form the government, and that’s that!

Of course, I am oversimplifying a complex process that is influenced by a large number of factors, but here’s an idea that is inherently simple: you should vote. Yes, really. On election day (or in an advanced poll), you should head down to a polling station and mark off that little space next to your favourite candidate’s name. It’s pretty darn easy.

Don’t have a preferred candidate, you say? Oh, but my friend, claiming ignorance isn’t an option. There’s so much out there to educate you. Why not start with Vote Compass, an easy tool that aligns your basic views to the top parties? From there, you can research federal party platforms and see who’s running for member of parliament in your riding. With the internet in the palms of our hands, learning about candidates and what they stand for is easier than ever.

Saying that your vote doesn’t count won’t fly with me either. In a number of instances, recounts have been required for ridings that have been narrowly won. 

In fact, close votes regularly happen in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, and if every eligible McMaster student went out and cast their ballot, it could very well swing ridings one way or another. I want you to head over to your nearest mirror, stare yourself down, and repeat after me: my vote matters. Because it does. Every vote does.

There’s another viewpoint that I often hear people citing for not voting, and frankly I find it bizarre. That would be the classic I really don’t care, they all suck anyways. 

All right folks, listen here. The choices right now might not be the best, I totally get that, but they’re the choices we have. The reality is, someone on that ballot is going to win. You might as well pick who you like the best, or at least who you hate the least. If you don’t vote, you don’t have the right to complain. Simple facts.

Now it’s time to tackle the forever puzzling and cryptic category, those people out there who adamantly state that they do not believe in voting. I’m not going to even pretend to understand you people, because not believing in having the right to have a say on a government that heavily impact their lives is deeply troubling to say the least. But here’s what I have to say to you: a massive amount of people around the world did not give their lives for you to sit at home and say I don’t believe in voting. 

Women’s suffrage did not happen so that you could say that you don’t believe in voting. And people around the world who would literally die just to vote for their government’s representatives are not putting themselves through grueling suffrage efforts so that your privileged Canadian self could sit down, sip an organic cold brew coffee and edgily say I don’t believe in voting.

So please, I implore you: vote. 

Vote especially if you’re one of the people from a group that recently got the right to vote, because historically, your voice hasn’t been heard loudly enough. Vote if you’re a proud Canadian who just recently got their citizenship, because your voice matters as much as any born Canadian. Vote if you’re a young person, because it’s high time that we show the older generations that we’re here and we have opinions that matter. 

Vote because you care about our country. Vote because you’re passionate. Vote because it’s the cool thing to do. Please, please, vote. Canada thanks you.

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