COLUMN: It’s simple, it’s basic, it’s neglected by many

There are plenty of complaints about 'tax and spend' councils as the municipal election draws near

There are plenty of complaints about ‘tax and spend’ councils as the municipal election draws near, but in White Rock at least, the city is making a bold improvement for a very small cost.

It has rented voting machines from the City of Toronto at a cost of $11,000, and thus the election results will come in smoothly and quickly on Saturday night.

Three years ago, the last results in White Rock came in about 2 a.m. Sunday. All ballots were counted by hand and it was a herculean effort to come up with the final result.

This is such a common-sense move, and one hopes that it marks the beginning of a trend.

It is hardly worthwhile for a city the size of White Rock to buy voting machines which are only used once every three years. Why not rent them from another jurisdiction where no election is underway?

White Rock is not the only B.C. municipality to rent machines this year. Others who are renting them include Port Moody, Squamish, Coquitlam and West Vancouver.

Surrey has had voting machines for years, and they make vote counting a breeze. They are a far cry from the way we did things in my days as a poll clerk at Ocean Park Community Hall more than 35 years ago. We counted each ballot by hand.

Despite that, we were usually able to have the count done within two hours. But after being on duty since 7:30 a.m., it was sure a relief to tally up the final figures and send them off to municipal hall with our deputy returning officer. Then we could finally go home.

Voting really is such a simple thing in our democracy, and at the local level, we really take it for granted. That’s why turnout is almost never very good.

The last local election in this area to attract more than half the voters to the polls that I’m aware of was in 1990, when 55 per cent of Delta voters voted. That was due to the contentious Spetifore lands development – an issue that remains unresolved and contentious some 21 years later.

White Rock often has a good turnout as well, which isn’t surprising, as a campaign in a smaller geographic area can be a lively and intense affair.

But contrast the usual 20 to 30 per cent turnout in local elections here with the recent vote in Tunisia, where more than 90 per cent of people were eager to cast a ballot that actually meant something, after many years of living under a dictatorship.

Some countries have voting, but it is far from free. In some cases, there is just one candidate. In others, it is a real threat to your wellbeing to vote for someone in opposition.

Canada is fortunate. We have had the ability to vote freely for so long that none of us (unless we come from elsewhere) know what it is like to not be able to cast a vote freely.

I always urge people to vote, but I do so knowing full well that many of those who read these words will not do so. That is their right, because we also have the freedom here not to vote. No one will be penalized for not showing up at the polls.

It’s simple, it’s basic, it’s not time-consuming and it’s neglected by many. But at the same time, voting is a wonderful thing. It’s a freedom which is not always available to many others in this world.

On Saturday night, we will know who voters in Surrey, Delta and White Rock selected to conduct their local affairs for the next three years. Those who take part are doing something very special, even it doesn’t always feel that way.

Frank Bucholtz writes Thursdays for the Peace Arch News. He is the editor of the Langley Times.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Gurinder Mann. (Submitted photo)
Surrey man receives prestigious restorative justice award

East Newton resident Gurinder Mann one of five to receive a Community Safety and Crime Prevention Award

TEASE PHOTO: Teens at the Bumpers dance club in Whalley in the 1980s, in a photo posted to the "Bumpers / The Zone OFFICIAL Party Page" on Facebook.com.
SURREY NOW & THEN: Bumpers and other teen dance clubs were big in the 1980s

A weekly look back at Surrey-area landmark sites and events

An example of a Surrey Police cruiser, showcased at Mayor Doug McCallum’s State of the City Address at Civic Hotel in May of 2019. (File photo: Amy Reid)
Surrey Police Service looking to hire in-house lawyer

Solicitor to work within Office of the Chief Constable, serve on internal and external committees to ‘represent the SPS’s interests’

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
New COVID-19 protocols set for provincial courthouses

The new rules were issued on Jan. 21, and took effect immediately

Tyler Tardi will serve as a fifth on Team Laycock at the 2021 Tim Hortons Brier. (Black Press Media file photo)
Tyler Tardi to serve as alternate for B.C. team at Brier

Langley/Cloverdale curler to serve as ‘fifth’ on Team Laycock at Calgary-hosted championships

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Police in Vancouver looking for male suspect who allegedly spat and attacked a store manager for not wearing a mask, at 7-Eleven near Alma Street and West 10th Avenue just before noon on Dec. 17, 2020. (Vancouver police handout)
VIDEO: Man spits on 7-Eleven manager over mask rule, sparking Vancouver police probe

‘Unfortunately, the store manager sustained a cut to his head during the assault’

The Vancouver-based SAR team successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the west side of Tim Jones Peak in the early morning of Monday, Jan. 19. (North Shore Rescue photo)
B.C.’s busiest SAR team raises alarm after 2021 begins with fatality, multiple rescues

‘People beyond ski resort areas of Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress go without cell reception,’ SAR warns

Competitors make their way through the course at the 2019 Canadian Cross Country Championships, which was hosted by Abbotsford in 2019. (File photo)
Abbotsford to host 2023 Canadian Cross Country Championships

Clearbrook Park last hosted the event in 2019, Ottawa hosting 2021 and 2022 races

Most Read