EDITORIAL: Get informed, then get out and vote

In the 2009 provincial election, only about 50 per cent of voters bothered to cast a vote. Will this year be any different?

The 2013 provincial election will be one of the most important in a generation. At a time when the economy appears to be in slow motion, yet demands on the public purse are increasing, voters need to pay attention to who’s running.

Of course, it’s the same for every election – to little avail. In the 2009 provincial election, only about 50 per cent of voters bothered to cast a vote.

Who is to blame and will things be any different this year?

Is it helplessness and apathy that keep people away from the polls?

Many people simply don’t connect with government. And many who do vote do so strategically to keep one person or party out, rather than trying to vote someone in whom they believe in.

Perhaps B.C. voters simply distrust anything politicians say.

When there is a real issue, such as lack of funding for health care or education or transit, many eligible voters simply don’t see the connection between their vote and government policy.

Instead, they leave the field to special interest groups – business, unions, lobbyists – to influence the results.

The truth is that politicians will only be accountable if we hold them accountable. We have a right to toss any of them out if they don’t do what they promised, so voters need to pay attention to what politicians say and they need to find out who they are.

Those who abstain from casting a ballot are also taking a big risk that those who do vote agree with their points of view.

“To all the potential voters who plan not to vote: I want to thank you for your blind faith in me that I will make the right choice for you,” wrote Jerry Steinberg in a letter to the editor earlier this month. “Your confidence in my intelligence, research, priorities and wisdom is gratifying.”

Over the past several weeks, Peace Arch News has covered this community’s ridings – Surrey-White Rock, Surrey-Cloverdale and Surrey-Panorama – with information on our local candidates and their political parties.

You can learn their positions on issues – both local and provincial – examine their profiles, and read – in their own words – what they think is important, and what they intend to do about it if elected.

It’s important information to have before heading to the polls today.

Of course, more critical than who you vote for – and for whatever reasons you choose – is that you actually cast a ballot.