Letter: First order of business for council: Address voter turn-out

Lake Country's council needs to address poor voter turn-out for local government elections.

To the editor:

Re: Lake Country civic voting results—2014.

Once again the voters have spoken, and now those elected can claim to speak and act on behalf of the residents of Lake Country.

But, can they realistically do that? Are they really representative of the whole community, when more than 75 per cent of eligible voters did not vote.

Less than 25 per cent of those eligible to vote actually got out to vote despite important issues affecting all our ward communities. And the results indicate an obvious drop in voter interest from the 2011 election when 29 per cent of eligible voters considered their voting rights important enough to exercise, and that was a poor enough turn-out.

Our elected representatives clearly have one big issue to address during their term of office, namely: Why do so few eligible voters actually vote in Lake Country?

I would like to offer some thoughts for our new council to ponder.

Firstly, the actual voting conditions were challenging. It took an inordinately long time to vote when one arrived at the single polling station, and to most voters this was an unnecessary waste of their precious time. Voters were heard to say that they didn’t have the 45 minutes to spare to stand in a line up before voting.

Surely in today’s electronic age a more efficient way of recognizing voters and registering votes could be found, so that the whole process could be speeded up.

Secondly, we have a ward system, with four wards, but the only location where voters could vote was in Winfield. Voters in Oyama, Carr’s Landing and Okanagan Centre would surely feel more included and motivated if they got to vote at a location within their own wards. The extra expense would certainly be warranted.

Thirdly, the voting system is very complicated and confusing. Candidates can live outside Lake Country, anywhere in British Columbia, but voters who need to reside in a specific ward only get to vote for four of the seven representatives who will make decisions on their behalf over the next four years. That process seems back to front to me.

I suggest all this is very confusing to voters, so they don’t bother to turn out to vote.

By the way, my wife and I voted at one of the advance polls, and conditions were just as slow there. But we did vote.

Peter Withers, Oyama

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