EDITORIAL: Leaving it up to the others

The civic election is over, the venerable hobby of grousing can now begin.

The civic election is over, which means – as those familiar with politics recognize well –  the venerable hobby of grousing can now begin.

It’s a given that, as soon as results are known, some will complain it was a bad day for democracy that this team or that person was elected over other options.

Or that low voter turnout means the victors don’t have the confidence of the electorate.

In the Abbotsford polls, Mayor George Peary lost his seat, while all the incumbents were returned. Clearly, voters were expressing dissatisfaction, but only took one step to initiate change in their civic government.

Aside from a new mayor, and one councillor, the same council serves, and that has generated some public criticism and frustration.

Yet the polling results in Abbotsford were created not simply by those who voted for the returning councillors, but by all those who didn’t vote against.

One has to wonder what the picture would look like if more people had cast ballots.

Abbotsford actually improved in terms of voter turnout this year, with nearly 40 per cent of the electorate going to the polls, compared to 33 per cent in 2008, and above the paltry provincial average of 29 per cent.

The P3 water project was soundly defeated, and it’s unlikely that outcome would have changed dramatically with greater turnout.

Nevertheless, it is telling – and troublesome – that more than 50,000 residents of this city with the right to vote didn’t bother to exercise it.

By not completing a ballot, non-voters did, in essence, cast their vote – in favour of whatever occurred.

However pleased or displeased one is by the results, the real disservice to democracy was done on election day by the majority who left it up to others to make decisions for them.