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NELSON: Familiar names not only criteria
No vote at all is better than a coin flip vote or a vote for someone with name recognition.
It’s a heretical thought, I know.
We talk about people who have fought and died for our right to vote.
But casting a vote for someone because you recognize his or her name is worse than just staying home.
I come from no holier than thou position on this. I have stood in civic election voting booths knowing that I support two of the candidates — perhaps a neighbour or a guy whose politics I share. Past that, the only criteria I have supplied myself with are vague impressions or a name I might recognize.
Do I cast just the two votes I’m sure of or fulfill my civic duty by putting marks beside the names of five other people about whom I really know nothing?
Unfortunately, too many municipal voters do just that. They cast a few considered votes and haphazardly sprinkle the remainder among other candidates. Those with name recognition draw an inordinate number of these shoulder-shrugging votes.
Incumbents or returning councillors are shoo-ins year after year, regardless of performance, and many a fabulous candidate has run up against the unassailable cordillera of incumbents and recognizable names.
But in the upcoming Coquitlam byelection, there are 11 candidates vying for only two seats. Having only two votes might minimize the number of votes made strictly on the basis of name recognition — at least, one would hope so.
While I agree with my colleague that experience counts and shouldn’t be discounted, I also think we shouldn’t ignore the rookie candidates, the ones with different perspectives, even if their names aren’t yet household ones.
One feels obliged to vote — it’s our civic duty. But it’s also our civic duty to cast a considered vote, to find out a little about the candidates before just voting for someone with “experience.”
Besides, experience at what? It’s civic government, not the D-Day invasion.
Civic elections are won with union support and name recognition, and, too often, you don’t get the former without the latter.
On Oct. 26, cast a considered vote or consider not voting.
Respect “experience,” yes, but only as one of many criteria.