Get out and vote

Apathy and indifference are the enemies of democracy.

In many Western countries, for some reason (a sense of well-being, a growing distaste for the weaknesses of the political process?), the electorate has been participating less and less in the democratic process. In the United States, for example, voter turnout in the presidential elections in recent years has hovered around a miserable 50% of eligible voters. In the UK, the figure has been close to 60%. One fortunate exception is France, where, during the last presidential election in April, voter turnout was an inspiring 84% of that country's 44.5 million registered voters.

On October 10th, voters in the Province of Ontario will be going to the polls. If you're eligible to vote, please get out and do so. It's a fundamental duty of every citizen. This year's election is especially interesting because of the referendum related to the mixed-member proportional system that's being proposed.

As flawed as the democratic system is, it is still the best participatory system we have. It would be dangerous and irresponsible to allow this hard-fought system to simply slide into irrelevance or into the hands of those who would manipulate it for their own selfish ends. We should heed Thomas Jefferson's warning: "Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories."

The media has been collecting and disseminating useful information throughout the election campaign. Take the time to read, listen, watch and reflect -- then vote. When we look around the world and see what's happening in countries without functioning democracies, we see the perils we could be facing. Don't slide into apathy.

Voter turnout in the last provincial election in Ontario was 56.5%. Let's do better this time.

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