The concept that our vote is our voice is a popular and compelling way of getting people out to vote. The legitimacy and authority of our government lies in the confidence that it is elected by a majority of the people who live in the community. If there is low voter turnout, it could be argued that the government that is elected does not accurately represent the community it is serving.
In the 2010 civic election in Edmonton only 33.4% of the eligible voters cast a ballot. How do we increase this number?
I believe one way is to increase the literacy levels of adults in our community. In Alberta, 4 in 10 adults do not have the literacy skills to fully participate in our society. During elections, we read campaign pamphlets, articles in newspapers, and information online and attend forums to help us form our opinions on the issues. For 40% of Albertans who have low literacy levels, acquiring the information to make informed decisions can be a challenge.
I believe that every citizen has the right and the responsibility to participate in the democratic process. If everyone has the skills to understand the issues and the confidence to participate in the process, we will have a more engaged electorate.
At the Centre we believe that literacy develops in families first. Parents who are informed on social and political issues and discuss these with their children are demonstrating the importance of having your voice heard. My daughter and I have gone through all the websites of candidates running in our ward and she has helped me decide who I am going to vote for!
There is one action that I think we can all do to support the community – go vote on October 21, 2013.