Listen, learn, vote

Voting is a simple act that holds powerful significance. Don’t waste the opportunity.

And so it begins – 28 days of fevered campaigning as the 2013 provincial election gets “officially” under way.

Not that the parties (or the candidates) have not been campaigning already. With the advent of the fixed election date, and the byelection held in Chilliwack-Hope just a year ago, it seems the campaign began months ago.

But now comes the important part – our part.

During the next four weeks we have the responsibility to learn what we can about the individual candidates and the policies they represent. It’s our job to weigh their promises, assess their abilities, and register our decision.

And it’s never been easier. With the pervasiveness of online sources, reading up on a candidate is only a mouse-click or a tap away. Complete party platforms are either online now or will be soon. The Progress will also be compiling its election coverage under a specific tab at www.theprogress.com.

There are other opportunities.  To date, more than eight all-candidate meetings have been scheduled, providing a chance to ask questions, listen, or simply meet the candidates.

But becoming educated about the issues is only part of the work. It’s what we do with that information that really counts.

And so far, we haven’t done a very good job.

During the 2009 general election, barely half the voters in the riding of Chilliwack bothered to vote. In Chilliwack-Hope, the turn out was better, but only by two per cent.

In the byelection held in Chilliwack-Hope last year, voter participation was much worse. A paltry 41 per cent of registered voters registered their choice.

Whether apathy, cynicism or laziness, it doesn’t matter. It is an abdication of a responsibility that people elsewhere in the world continue to fight and die for.

It is a right granted to women in B.C. only 95 years ago, and to certain minority groups only in the late 1940s.

And yet, more than half of us routinely take it for granted.

Voting is a simple act that holds  powerful significance.

Don’t waste it.