The 2019 federal election is just around the corner, but some Canadians may feel uninspired to head to the polls.
Maybe you dislike all of the political party leaders, or you’re frustrated with debates turning into personal attacks.
So what do you if you don’t like any of the political party leaders and don’t want to vote? Here are some things to consider.
You vote for an MP, not a leader
Alex Marland, a professor of political science at Memorial University of Newfoundland, says it’s important Canadians remember that they don’t directly elect a prime minister, they elect Members of Parliament (MPs).
READ MORE: Here’s what you need to know to vote
While media attention is usually focused solely on party leaders, Marland says, it’s actually quite useful for Canadians to think about individual candidates.
“Reality is, research suggests that it’s anywhere from four to 10 per cent of Canadians who do actually consider their local candidate when they’re voting,” Marland says.
“I think it comes down to recognizing that the leader is powerful, yes, but the power that an individual MP can have comes from the ability of that MP to be willing to stand up, and willing to challenge authority.”
With this in mind, Marland says voters should choose a preferred local candidate who is likely to represent their interests irrespective of party affiliation.
Don’t destroy your ballot
Destroying your ballot because you don’t like candidates isn’t the best option, according to Laura Stephenson, a professor of political science at Western University.
“It doesn’t have any bearing on the outcome of the election because it’s still going to be decided by everyone else who did cast a ballot,” she explains.
Elections Canada does not consider spoiled or destroyed ballots, therefore making them essentially useless.
Marland echoes Stephenson’s stance, and says destroying a ballot is an “ineffective act of signalling dissatisfaction.”
Instead, they both suggest voting for the candidate you dislike the least.
Vote for the person you dislike the least
“Recognize that elections are about trade-offs and making imperfect choices,” Marland says.
Marland says research shows that when people say they dislike all their options, chances are they haven’t fully read all parties’ platforms.
He says that people often don’t like someone because of how they physically look — not because they truly dislike all their policies.
“If you were to take a look at any political party leader or party’s policies, inevitably, there are policies that we are going to disagree with and you just choose the best of the available options,” Marland says.
“To me, that’s the best possible way to express frustration, because you say, well, I don’t like these alternatives, therefore this is the alternative I’ll support.”
(If you’re frustrated with your options, Marland says citizens can volunteer to help a local candidate on their campaign or connect with other members of the community.)
Stephenson argues that voting is often a better option than sitting out the electoral process. The point of a democracy is to voice your opinion, not withhold it.
“There’s lots of different forms of political expression out there when it comes to the ballot box,” she says.
“But the best form of political expression is actually just saying who you like better.”
For more information on when, where and how to vote, Global News has created this voter’s guide.
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