Right in the centre - Election looming


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

October 3 is Manitoba Election Day. Most predictions are calling for a very close election. Close in that the number of seats for each party may be a lot closer than the last couple of elections but in some ridings, the results won’t be very close. In some they will be quite close. In next week’s column, I will try to bring over 60 years of experience observing elections to the column so maybe, younger people can avoid some of the mistakes I made and the others have made.

Those quite close ridings or electoral districts are where the overall election victory will be won or lost. Many observers say that about 12 ridings will be the real battleground and they may well be right.

On the technical side of things, my wife and I have seen most aspects of elections. Between the two of us we have run in one school board race, one provincial leadership race, four provincial MLA nomination races, two provincial elections, one federal nomination race, worked on or managed a dozen or so campaigns and four Town Council races.

Until now, our experience has been that the voters lists have been a disaster and the number of foul-ups have been atrocious. I don’t know if has been lack of experience, lack of funds or just plain laziness but electoral lists have been observed to be really bad at municipal, provincial federal level.

This year’s Manitoba election looks like Elections Manitoba, the non-partisan body that runs the province’s elections may have made some considerable advances. The voter lists seem to be pretty good, at least when we went to the advance poll on Sept. 23. There is still sometimes a problem of using street addresses compared to mailing addresses. In urban areas, they may be the same but in rural areas, most people have a Post Office box number as mail is delivered there, not by home delivery. It’s been a problem over the years to convince urban based bureaucrats that mail doesn’t usually get home delivery in rural towns and farms.

Time will tell but, the new ballot looks promising. It’s a whole sheet of paper and you fill in a circle with a felt marker, rather than marking an X beside the chosen candidate’s name. Once you have marked the ballot, you put it in a cardboard sleeve and the voter observes while an Elections worker drops it into a ballot box. It looks like counting won’t be done by hand but by machine.That should mean that counting may be a lot faster and less labour intensive. Knowing how machines work, I can see that close recounts might have to be by hand.

Overall, I have to say I was impressed by the voting process based on the advanced poll experience but we will see come Tuesday night if the whole process is an improvement.

Then there is the age-old problem of voter apathy. Seeing as the last 120 years or so have seen disastrous results from elections on many occasions, one would think that everybody would see the need to vote. Apparently not! I guess people don’t realize that the worst tyrant in the last 100 years, Adolf Hitler, got elected in a democratic election because not enough people came out to vote against him. Elections are vitally important. It’s often joked that if you don’t vote, you can’t complain about the results. It’s more than a joke, it’s a sad reality that people don’t vote and I don’t understand why. 

Perhaps next week I can offer some reasons why people need to engage in the process, not just voting but the actual political process.

Remember if you don’t get involved in politics, you are destined to be ruled by those who do.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being the view of the Banner & Press staff.