The latest municipal elections in B.C. bring the same old familiar results; not in the faces or personalities of those elected or rejected on November 19, but in another pathetic turnout by the local electorate.
The provincial average participation was under 30 per cent, with some communities only registering in the low-teens.
It’s a stark contrast of what democracy means to us, compared to what it means to people in the Middle East and North Africa — who are dying in their thousands for a chance to vote.
There are many options to get B.C. voters interested, here is an idea: as there is a penalty for late payments of property taxes; why not have a credit on property taxes for those who vote in civic elections?
Maybe a substantial tax reduction for each year of the three-year mandate, as an incentive to vote, and municipal governments would never actually lose revenue by handing out voting credits.
Property taxes would be “adjusted” just like those items in certain food and retail stores, whose regular price mysteriously doubles overnight before the Buy-One-And-Get-One-Free-Sale begins — nudge, nudge, wink, wink!
We all just love to get something we perceive to be free, even if it’s really not free; in municipal politics, perception is reality, of course. Maybe this idea sounds a tad simple, and voters who don’t own property would have to be equally compensated, but remember Ockham’s Razor has been around for about 700 years. It basically states that simple solutions are often correct solutions.
Perhaps some newly-elected council members around the province will consider bringing this or other options up for debate at Union of B.C. Municipalities meetings soon; sadly, those who have served multiple terms know that voter apathy suits them just fine, and is often the main reason for them staying in office.