Opinion

Letters: A few suggestions on voting

Editor, The News:

Re: District starts voting message (The News, May 23).

Congratulations on your article identifying the new campaign to try and increase the voter turnout for the November election.

Council will spend over $40,000 to try and ‘Get the vote out.’

As described, unfortunately, this year's campaign is destined to the same dismal results as past ones as it is designed to do the same thing: educate the voter.

This is an insult to the voters of Maple Ridge because they do not need educating to vote, as they are already voting – to stay home.

With literally thousands of signs stuck into every corner of Maple Ridge, how could anyone not realize an election is going on?

To increase voter turnout, the district’s campaign must address the fact that today’s voter is not the same as those in the ’60s.

Council seems oblivious to this fact as November 2014 will essentially be identical to voting days of past decades.

I have a couple of suggestions that would address this fact and also give people a reason to vote, and in doing so will increase voter turnout, hopefully by more than 10 per cent.

The first is to recognize that people today are extremely busy and going to a polling station is far from the top of their to-do lists.

Instead of expecting people to go to a polling station, take a polling station to where the people are already present, doing their weekly grocery shopping.

Set up three mobile polls at major shopping centres throughout Maple Ridge – Coopers mall, Valley Fair Mall, and Westgate Mall.

Have them open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at which time the ballots could be taken to a nearby polling station to be counted after the 8 p.m. closing time.

The second is to include several referendum questions on the ballot.

People love to give their opinions and if the questions are the right ones, people will make an effort to vote.

My suggestions for possible referendum questions:

• Should the incoming council receive a pay raise?

• Should the new council be increased to eight councilors if permitted by the Community Charter?

• Should the incoming council support an application to exclude the Pelton land from the ALR to permit commercial development?

• Should the new council require staff to include an option for an zero per cent tax increase during budget discussions for 2015?

5. Will you support increased fees/taxes directed to TransLink if no transit improvements are made in Maple Ridge other than a possible BRT to Coquitlam?

By making the questions simple, our voting machines will permit easy counting and limit the additional cost.

Something definitely has to be done to increase the turnout. The apparent plan will do little if anything to do so.

Graham Mowatt

Maple Ridge

 

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