Post Election - New Category Voter Turnout

The election is over, official results that are the same as the unofficial see post below this one.

There is a Special Council meeting immediately following the GGC meeting on Thursday the 6th and the office of Ward 2 will be declared no longer vacant. [warning- long post]
I have made a new category — Voter Turnout, this is for any ideas that anyone thinks of that may help, could be off the top of your head thinking or long thought out ones.
Brian Johnson has written something on his site and it can be found here.

More regular citizens found this blog and that is great because as much as I like my political friends, I did not create this blog for them, I created it for regular citizens to have a voice to either ask questions or have a rant now and then.

I drive in a carpool for work and again I talked their ear off about the results and other stuff, I asked them what they thought about the low turnout and why, one comment was , nobody knows them. I guess that can be part of it. A Provincial or Federal election many people are voting for the party, even if you like the riding candidate people still consider the big picture of the party and if it aligns with their personal visions that is what they do– you hope.

The Municipal candidate must build support and relationships in the community and get people out to vote, many do not know the issues or have only a single issue that concerns them but if they feel powerless or just indifferent they will stay home and not bother.

I disagree that if people are satisfied with the status quo they don’t come out to vote. Apathy is apathy. The response if asked is not “I’m happy so I did not vote” no I bet it is more along the line of “No point, they’re all the same anyways”.

If someone turns 18 the year of a municipal election do they vote? Are they excited about it? I ran into a former homework club volunteer in the grocery store and she said that she was 18 and had just voted, she was soooooo excited –I told her— You know what– I may be the only person you told today that actually understands that feeling. It was a Federal election I think but she was just so happy she was able to vote.

What does an 18 year old have to gain in voting for a Local Councillor? Well they have a vote on taxes that help pay for the roads they drive on, they may still live at home and they are voting for someone who is thinking of the future for jobs in the context of employment lands. They may be lucky and remain in the area for work and eventually want to move out- hopefully before they turn 30 and they will want to move into an apartment or buy a house, an 18 year old has a vote to have a say on planning issues.

I believe that people do not vote because they just feel like it makes no difference. Young people will not vote if they do not see their parents voting.

I was daydreaming the other day while sitting in traffic and the image of a castle came to mind. Local council is like the Kings court was at one time and there is a moat all the way around, when the local peasants start to get restless they pull the drawbridge up and close up shop.

I want to know when our next Town Hall is , I don’t mean Town Council meeting but an informal Town hall, Pickering is having 4 a year I think, it may be one per ward. Ajax has had open sessions on Crime and Safety issues but it is not the same as inviting people to come and be free to speak on anything.

We allow citizens to address Council at Council meetings but you only have 5 minutes to say your issues then you get asked questions maybe then that is it, you don’t get the last word.

When no one pays attention then conditions set in that indicate to Councillors and to Staff that no one cares and they can do what they want. I am not saying there is corruption but I have read that corruption in the local level — anywhere in Canada thrives in an environment where nobody is watching. The perception is that developers run everything well I guess they do and for the most part it is the councillors, planning staff and the developers that are paying attention until a backyard is stepped into.

After the 2006 election and 23% I think maybe it was 28% it was low however, the Town of Ajax created a new Advisory Committee, it is called Diversity and Community Engagement . I applied for this but was not selected and that is fine, it does not change my own goals.

The following is from the description on the Website-

This committee is responsible for connecting and engaging all residents of the Town of Ajax with their community. This goal is accomplished through understanding, discussion, community building and celebration. The committee works actively to formulate and recommend opportunities to enhance community relations and inclusiveness, while embracing our diversity. As ambassadors, committee members nurture and promote a sense of belonging for every Ajax resident.

Here are excerpts from some minutes. There are no minutes online since November 2007.

May 2007 :At this point the start time for the meetings remains at 6pm.

Maybe the member that suggested 6:30 or 7pm start was right, the people that need the most engaging are those that do not work here, 80% of West Durham– Ajax-Pickering must leave the region for work so participating the happenings of the Town are difficult if they start at 6pm. Most may just be arriving in at the GO train or Westney and Salem offramps at that time.

June 2007: Arts Festival: Sharlene asked for input on developing an Arts Festival that will bring together the Arts and Culture communities and other community groups in an event in town to celebrate Art. A brainstorming meeting will be scheduled.

October 2007: Looks like the meeting time was changed here.
Revised Meeting Start Time: David suggested that the Committee amend their meeting start time in order to accommodate those members coming from Toronto. The Committee unanimously decided to begin their meetings at 6:30 p.m. (rather than 6:00 p.m.).

I am still trying to find things really relevant to engaging citizens.

The committee has been in place since Spring 2007 and it seems things are just not coming together, The multicultural item continues to be deferred. No mention of the Arts Festival in this one.

Work Plan Update: Sharlene Melnike reviewed the elements of the Strategic Plan that pertain to Diversity and Community Engagement. There was some general discussion about the role and mandate of the Committee.Some suggested that perhaps a visioning exercise might help the Committee to scope out what tasks need to be undertaken and completed to satisfy the requirement of the Strategic Plan and the Committee’s work plan. There was a strong sense of importance placed on reaching out to new residents. It was felt that the Community Development Council of Durham would have a good listing of organizations who do such work. It was suggested that perhaps we could have several of those organizations come and speak to the Committee about the work they do and the challenges they face. It was also suggested that perhaps the noted representatives from various organizations could assist the Committee with their visioning exercise.The possibility of retaining a facilitator was discussed. <—- does this cost money?

So in this segment it shows a group that has no focus and time is being spent on having outside groups come in and highlighting their problems and the work they do.
I don’t get it, I thought the people applying for this committee were coming to the table with visions and ideas to offer and be a conduit for council. Why are they having such a hard time?

They have been together for a year and what have they accomplished?

Nowhere in the mandate is voter turnout increase mentioned however the more people are engaged the more connected they will feel and the natural benefit is a higher voter turnout.

What will it take? I think more informal town hall meetings will help. People need the opportunity to just listen and ask a question and not just on items on a set agenda. The last Ward meetings had the Mayor do all the talking and the Ward Councillors were sitting like lumps– this was not their choice I was told. Citizens were asking questions to Joe and Scott and Mr., Parish answered or Town Staff. I always wondered about that. The same thing happend in the ones for Ward 3 and 4 but I remember someone in the audience saying they liked it and said we should have more of them.

So your homework is , come back with at least one idea that you think would help increase voter turnout in Ajax. Municipal Level– Brian, not you give someone else a turn :) My new readers don’t be shy, you should read some of the things I can think of

3 Responses to “Post Election - New Category Voter Turnout”

  1. Scott Templeton Says:

    Internet Voting!!!!!!!!!

    Nope, we both should know better then that! I would prefer the Mail to the internet.

  2. ShaunM Says:

    Was there a candidates debate?. I don’t recall seeing anything in the local paper about one. This may have helped to get more people interested in voting

    Karem: There was a Candidate Meet and Greet , not a debate as per the usual style. They all got to speak and answer questions– pre-selected. It was in the paper and promoted on the Town website.

  3. Scott Templeton Says:

    There is another way which I am not sure they use anymore…during the Municipal elections in 2000 in Tiny Township they used telephone voting (Turn out was 67 percent)…property owners regardless of where they lived could call in thier votes. You were give a code sent by mail and you entered your vote by touch tone or if you didn’t hve touch tone you used the rotary dial.

    Internet voting would work if you spread the voting day out over the last 3 or 4 days of the election period. You could use the same method as the phone in vote. Yes you would have a secured login. Hackers are a problem with this one.

    Karem: I have heard about Telephone and that is not bad, proxies could even have a different code so you have your regular vote and the vote that is assigned to you if someone is away.

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