Electors in every municipality and electoral area across BC had the opportunity to vote for their preferred local government candidates on October 19, 2018. It was an opportunity that should have been seized by people everywhere given the importance of local decisions to our quality of life. It’s the decisions made by our local governments, after all, that help to determine how we grow as communities, how we protect our natural environments, our ability to achieve food and water security, our choices of travel, how we manage our wastes, the ways in which we prepare for and deal with emergencies, the types of infrastructure and amenities in which we invest, and our role as citizens in governance.
In the end, October’s local elections attracted embarrassingly low numbers of voters. CivicInfo reports that, for the province as a whole, the estimated eligible voter turnout in municipalities was 35.6%. This level of engagement was essentially unchanged from 2014. To be sure, we’re not alone — cities and towns across Canada and the US, in the UK and elsewhere seem to be neglected by their electors, too. There are other places, however, where local elections get the respect they deserve. Take France, where turnout rates of 65% or higher seem to be the norm.
In the coming months, I will be examining and blogging about voting rates in a variety of places in the hope of finding best practices that we can apply here. Stay tuned.