COLUMN: Shocking that so few determine our future

On election day I was tasked with monitoring two rural polling places in the well-established and multi-generational communities ...

On election day I was tasked with monitoring two rural polling places in the well-established and multi-generational communities of Bradner and Mt. Lehman.

The voters there, for the most part, could be described as traditional and, unlike much of the province, cast their ballots in greater numbers.

Not that the turnout there was earth-shattering, but it was well above the 50 per cent norm averaged across B.C., and it was significant that when the ballots were counted they were firmly entrenched in ensuring the status quo was maintained.

What I found enjoyable about the 12 hours I spent shuttling between Bradner Hall and Mt. Lehman’s ANAVETS centre was seeing so many friends and acquaintances, which tells you that most of the voters were well beyond their teens and twenties.

It was, on the other hand, encouraging to see a few youngsters voting for the first time. One family in particular caught my attention, not only because it was apparent their daughter was about to cast her first ballot, but because they were so obviously proud of the fact.

Before she entered the polling place, they took photos of her in front of the official posters beside the entry doors, and again afterwards.

That was, in my opinion, a family not only proud to participate in the power and duty of democracy, but was willingly and enjoyably instilling the strength and belief in participatory action for years and generations to come.

Along with the regular polling stations within the two halls were the provisions for people who were not registered in the area to cast ‘absentee’ ballots in the ridings they called home.

Upon casting his ballot, one man, who obviously must have been a new citizen and thus eligible to vote for the first time, yelled out as he left the hall “Thank you, Canada, for democracy and free speech!”

Rather moving that, and making me and many others in the hall feel not only proud but happy that we live in a world where, with one little mark on a sheet of paper, we have the ability to determine our future.

What isn’t so prideful, however, is that half of the people in this province don’t take enough interest to vote, yet are among the first to complain when things don’t turn out the way they want.

They bitch about jobs, or the lack of. They whine that they don’t have enough money or are taxed to the max.

Yet they don’t take the time to learn about what makes British Columbia, or Canada – or the world for that matter – tick.

They, children of our province and our country, literally sit back and let others make decisions.

They have, unlike the man who left Bradner Hall praising the opportunity to express himself, no pride in themselves when they choose not to be a part of what makes our way of life so strong, and for most, so bountiful.

When you realize that fewer than 25 per cent of those eligible to vote last Tuesday actually determined who would govern British Columbia for the next four years, it is shocking. Not that I am at all unhappy with how the election turned out, but I am disgusted that so few made the effort to feel good about themselves for being a contributing part of something – government – that is so significant in our lives.

Democracy has always been touted as “government for the people, by the people.”

Shame that so few of us really care about that principle.

markrushton@abbynews.com