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Ontarians Should Complain Less and Vote More

by: Miheret Damcha

If you chose not to vote in the 2022 Ontario provincial election, I don’t want to hear you complain. I don’t want to hear about rent prices going up when you could have had a say on June 2, 2022. Low voter turnout is an issue that damages our sense of democracy, while delegitimizing the government that is voted in.

Why Voting Matters

In the past, Ontario has had low voter turnout, but this one was the lowest. The province was able to get a measly 43.5% of the eligible voters to the ballot. This is problematic for several reasons.  For one, the low voter turnout shows how disengaged people have gotten from their government. If people cared about government and the policies it implements, more voters should have showed up. For instance, the Ford government rolled back rent control policies for new buildings which meant unaffordable rent prices for many people.

Speaking of civic engagement, voting is one way to check the powers of government. Elections give you a say on who gets to be in power. How are we keeping politicians in check when no one shows up to vote? History shows that higher turnouts are bad for incumbents which shows that votes can speak to power. You can see this in the 2015 federal election, which had 68% going to the polls, to unseat the Conservatives.

Democracy Woes

Democracy advocates are saying that low voter turnouts harm our democracy. The non-profit Democracy Watch states that the low voter turnout is a sign of a crisis. The low voter turnout is an indicator that shows that the government is not truly representative of the province. If only half the province shows up to vote, the results will only reflect the needs of those voters. This leaves marginalized groups that are not able to vote, including the homeless population unable to have their say. If democracy is based on the majority, the low voter turnout is the antithesis of the concept.

Numbers Don’t Lie

Looking at those numbers, I can see why there are some people who have no problem with the low voter turnout. For example, Premier Ford boldly claimed that the province chose a clear winner. Despite losing the popular vote, the Progressive Conservatives did win a majority government. But the other parties did get 60% of the vote, which should make people wonder the validity of Ford’s statement.

The Other Side

More should be done to get voters to the polls. Fraser Institute argues that political parties should do more to mobilize more voters. The think tank claims that the problem lies with the parties, not the electoral system. While political parties should have better platforms to mobilize voters, you can’t ignore the numbers. It is understandable why people would feel disfranchised to vote when the winning party has less votes than the other three combined. Why should they vote when the results won’t match with who actually wins. Some type of electoral reform is needed to make sure all votes matter.

Simple Issues Require Simple Solutions

There should be more done to bring voters to the ballots. The Ontario government should create informational campaigns to educate the public on how to vote and who is eligible to do so. Many young adults don’t vote because they believe that they are not registered. Homeless individuals also are eligible to vote, but have no permanent address, so it’s harder for them to vote. Informational Campaigns could help educate the two groups about their eligibility, to improve voter turn outs.

2026 Hopes

Low voter turn outs hurts our democracy, delegitimizes the winning governing party, and impacts the greater public through the policies that is enacted. Ontarians are capable of stepping up. It is time we do just that and get our voices heard. In 2026, I hope to see everyone eligible take the chance to become a catalyst for change.