We Should Consider Strategic Voting

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The majority of Canadians want Stephen Harper gone, but unless all us centrists and leftists can learn to work together and vote strategically, that’s not going to happen. Not with the centre-right galvanized by Islamaphobia.

For as long as we have been able to grasp democracy as a concept, we have been told that our vote matters, that voting is our chance to determine how our country is run. And because any talk about voting usually boils down to some hand-over-heart pledge of allegiance to democracy, we are conditioned to think that we need to vote with our consciences. Unfortunately, voting with our conscience doesn’t really work for Canada’s electoral system.

In a Proportional Representation System of voting, every vote actually counts. Each vote counts toward the political party or politician whose values one identifies with. No vote is wasted. That’s not how it works in Canada.

Canada uses a First-Past-The-Post electoral system, which means votes are wasted all the time (including our own). Wasted in the sense that they have absolutely no effect in the outcome of the election. In every riding, the candidate that wins the highest number of votes wins the right to represent that particular seat in the House of Commons. The winner does not need an absolute majority. Just one percentile more than his or her opponents. In any given riding, a Conservative candidate can squeak through with as little as 30% of the popular vote if the centre-left is split just right. That could conceivably happen all over the country and usher in another Harper government. Just like it did last time around.

In the 2011 Canadian federal election, the parties occupying the centre-left spectrum cannibalized 49.6 percent of all votes cast. 14,723,980 votes were cast in the 2011 election, 7,297,066 were wasted. They had absolutely no impact in electing anyone to Parliament. Just wasting paper. And to think, us centrists/leftists like to pat ourselves on the back for our environmentalisms. Good thing only 61.4% of Canadians turned out to vote in 2011, the third lowest turnout in Canadian history, or else that stat would have been way more shocking and convincing. 

If these numbers are equal parts sobering and discouraging, don’t worry. We¬†can make our vote count through strategic voting.

Strategic voting. Yeah. I said it. What you gonna do? Wash my mouth out with dish soap? Ya can’t cause I already drank it all.

Strategic voting often draws ire from democratic diehards that always vote from the heart. Sometimes it’s better to say, “Is Fascism really that bad?” than to say “strategic voting”. After all, voting strategically implies that a democratic system where all our voices are heard through voting with our hearts is flawed, which it is but we still luv it. ūüėÖ.

Strategic voting doesn’t work, they say. And that’s true, if you are trying to vote strategically while uninformed. For example, if we go into the booth having recently heard that Tom Mulcair is in the lead and vote NDP to get rid of Harper (he isn’t), that’s a waste of a vote. Same goes for voting Liberal because Trudeau was in the lead last time we checked.¬†What matters is your riding and throwing your support behind whichever non-Conservative has the best chance of winning.

It’s very easy to get swept up by how the parties are polling with all their¬†sexy statistic but we can’t let the stats-enchantress that is CBCNews.ca/PollTracker cloud our judgement. If we are to exorcise the ghost of Stephen Harper from haunting the House of Commons, the Conservatives need to lose those easy seats where the sensible centrists/leftists are knocking themselves out of the running.

Thank goodness, we live in the Information Age where¬†VoteTogether.ca¬†& StrategicVoting.ca have painstakingly analyzed Conservative swing ridings. We should all super-duper promise to see if we live in a riding where a few thousand votes could be all that decides whether or not Stephen Harper is Prime Minister again. If so, we must agree that we are obligated to come together for the common goal of getting rid of a Prime Minister that doesn’t care about civil liberties, minorities, the environment, etc.

If you want your vote to count, use the tools VoteTogether.ca & StrategicVoting.ca has provided you with. The majority of Canadians didn’t want Harper four years ago and they don’t want him now. So please, I’m begging you, just look at these quality websites¬†to find out which Liberal, NDP or Green candidate* you could vote for to ensure that your vote actually counts. Disregard party colours, candidate credentials and your own personal prejudices. Whoever has the best chance at beating the CPC old stock dude in your riding, throw your vote their way so they can win a first-class ticket sordid¬†lil burg I like to call Ottawa.

Just this once. It’s a secret ballot and our secret is safe with me. I’ll never tell a soul we voted strategically. ūüėė

*Don’t rule out these 10+ fringe parties either!¬†
Parliament in all it's f*cking glory
Parliament in all it’s f*cking glory

And if you still think strategic voting is a dirty word, then swap votes! If you want to vote Liberal but the NDP representative has the best chance of winning against the Conservative, find a Canadian in the mirror image of that predicament and agree to vote for your parties of choice. IT’S SO DAMN CRAZY IT MIGHT JUST WORK!

The system has its flaws (i.e. a lot of votes are cast without¬†meaning), but the response to those flaws shouldn’t be, “F*ck it.” Strategic voting is simply a way of gaming the system when we’re desperate for change. At this point, I could care less whether Tom or JT are Prime Minister as long as there’s new blood holding the reigns. If either of them turn out to be disasters, we’ll just use strategic voting to hand Canada over¬†to someone new all over again.

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