You don’t have to complete your voting ballot. No one will throw it out if you don’t fill out every section of the little piece of paper in your booth.
Municipal elections are very different from provincial or federal elections.
When higher levels of government go to the polls, we typically have exactly one mark to make on the ballot. Whether you pick based on party, or party leader, or local candidate, you get one choice and only one.
But with municipal elections, it’s quite a smorgasbord.
In Maple Ridge, there are five candidates for mayor, and 21 for the six council seats. There are three electoral organizations. That’s a pretty significant diversity of choices just to start with.
Add the 10 school district candidates on top of that, and this may seem overwhelming.
For Pitt Meadows, with only one mayoral candidate, that’s a little bit less choice paralysis. But you still have 11 council candidates and three people running for school board slots.
One way to make it more bite-sized is to think of it as choosing a list starting from your favourite candidate, and working your way down.
If you read through our 10 Questions feature and see the longer answers by the candidates online, there may be one or two candidates who stand out for you.
If you go through the list of candidates, and you find you only want to vote for a few names, or just one of them, that’s fine too.
You can vote for mayor and leave the rest of the ballot blank. (Except in Pitt Meadows, of course.) You can just vote for school board trustees and ignore council if that’s your choice. You can ignore school board and stick to council.
We always encourage people to vote.
But that doesn’t mean the ballot is a challenge, beaten by filling out all the slots.
You may think there are plenty of worthy candidates running, you may be torn because you think there are plenty of good choices, and you’re just not sure you’re making the right ones.
But if you mark down a ballot for someone you think will make a good mayor, councillor, or school trustee, you’re making a good choice.
And remember – democracy is about a lot more than the one day on which we elect a new set of leaders.
Over the next four years, there will be plenty of chances to exercise the other, even more important parts of democracy – speaking up, demanding good governance, communicating with your elected officials, and building community.