Mayor: U.S. election turnout impressive

Perhaps one of the solutions to improving voter turnout in B.C. is to figure out why it works in the U.S.

Kamloops Mayor Peter Milobar noted Americans treat their right to vote in a different way than do many Canadians.

“It is one of the most convoluted and difficult systems to track,” Milobar said, “yet their voter turnout is two or three times ours.

“I go to vote and I can do it in 15 minutes. People in Florida stood in line for five, six hours, to vote.”

Milobar said he believes the many options presented for voting in the U.S. may also encourage people to exercise the right, pointing out states control what goes on ballots and how the votes will be cast, ranging from the familiar ‘X’ on a paper ballot to smartphones, by mail or online, depending on where they live.

“They take it a lot more seriously,” the mayor said.

“We should ask ourselves, why do they as a citizenry take it so seriously?”

Kamloops-South Thompson Liberal MLA Kevin Krueger agreed with Milobar’s observation there is something about the American culture that drives people to vote.

“People there [in the U.S.] have been absolutely committed to their vision of how their democracy will unfold,” Krueger said.

“Their [voting] system was designed by people with great forethought on how it should be done.”

Another aspect of the U.S. election that should get some attention in B.C. is the decision in Colorado and the state of Washington to begin the process to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana production and sale.

“I hope so,” Krueger said when asked if the proximity to a state whose populace has endorsed legalization should be studied by his government.

“We have to stop playing into the hands of the Hells Angels and the other gangs and criminals who control it now.”

Krueger said marijuana should be viewed by government as is alcohol and gambling, vices for many, entertainment for others, but a reality that needs to be addressed.

“It is a huge agricultural industry,” Krueger said, “and it makes no sense to tie up our courts, police and jails with it.”

In the adult population, people get to choose and a lot of people enjoy marijuana, Krueger said, noting the justice system often treats those charged with marijuana-related offences differently than they do those with alcohol-related charges, “giving them longer prison sentences.

“It should be licensed and regulated and taxed as a revenue source,” he said. “There should be off-ramps for people to get out of it if they want to [due to addiction].”

“When they say it’s a war on drugs, it’s not. It’s a war with organized crime,” Krueger said.

“And, it’s time to stop giving them this gravy train.”



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