‘People have spoken’: not true!

We can see that the numbers do not reflect the voice of the people of Grand Forks, says Sheila Dobie.

Since the municipal election, there has been an error reported that I cannot let pass by without comment.

The headline on the Gazette’s Nov. 19 issue declared: “The people have spoken—Konrad in as mayor”. To see what really happened we need to look at the numbers contained in the actual article underneath this headline. We can see that the numbers do not reflect the voice of the people of Grand Forks.

It is interesting that we do have another local area election example where the voice of the people is  better reflected in the results—well, almost. The example is  the electoral results for the RDKB’s Area D director.

In this case, three candidates ran, and though the turnout was very low  with only 30 per cent of eligible voters getting to the polls, of the 723 voters in Area D who actually feel they have a voice, 478 voted for one person: garnering 66 per cent of the vote indicates a clear statement of support.

However, with the poor voter turnout, the Area D outcome tells us that just 20 per cent of its 2,380 eligible residents voted for their area director.

Let’s also look to the Grand Forks mayoralty election:  only 50 per cent or slightly more that 1,500 of the eligible voters felt they had a voice, and of the votes cast there was a close division between the votes for three of the five candidates: 503 (33 per cent), 450 (30 per cent), 434 (29 per cent). When we place the highest of these numbers (503) towards the total potential voice of this municipality (3,031), we are again NOT hearing the voice of the people.

There is actually something that can be done about this alarming situation. We have a serious flaw with our electoral system that has contributed to voter apathy and this kind of leadership selection at all levels of government.

Our current system perpetuates voter apathy.

If this defect in our electoral process concerns you—and I think that all of us need to question a system that at times feels like a betrayal of democracy—you can actively participate in the dialogue and research for electoral reform. One way is through Fair Vote Canada:  check out www.fairvote.ca, a multi-partisan citizens’ campaign dedicated to achieving a process that allows Canadians to choose a fair electoral system where all voters are equal and every vote counts.

In the meantime, we have the opportunity (and obligation) to hold accountable the honour that has been gifted to the folks in these leadership roles.

Watch closely. Are they reflecting in their actions a kind of city/region/province/country that you are proud of?    We must find ways to make our voices REALLY heard and work toward a fair electoral system.

Sheila Dobie, Grand Forks








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