When 52 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots in the 2007 Ontario provincial election, journalists, political pundits and politicians themselves thought the low turnout was bad.
In this month’s Oct. 6 election, that number dropped to just 49.2 per cent of voters marking an X, shocking many observers who expected a better turnout than four years ago based on strong participation in advance polls.
Ontario’s politicians should have found ways to engage the silent 48 per cent.
This year’s turnout is the worst since 1867.
With fewer than half of Ontarians having chosen their leaders, MPPs in Queen’s Park cannot truly say they represent Ontario.
The low voter turnout in 2007 should have startled politicians into action. They should have put more effort into finding out why almost half the province didn’t relate to any of them. They should have found ways to engage the silent 48 per cent.
But they didn’t.
It seems elections were, and continue to be, all about winning.
Politicians could blame voter apathy but the truth might be the contrary.
When more than half of eligible voters avoid the polls on election day, they’re making a statement. They’re telling politicians, regardless of party affiliation, that they don’t make sense to them.
If leaders continue to ignore half of Ontario’s electorate, they’re not only missing out on huge numbers of potential votes, they’re letting many people go unheard and unrepresented.
All newly elected and re-elected MPPs should take it upon themselves to reach out to those who didn’t vote.
They must figure out what they are missing, because clearly, they are missing something.