“What if no one votes?”

Kate Chappell

October 11, 2011 | No Comments

Last week, I was a poll clerk in Ottawa South for the provincial election. I thought I would write about this experience and people would be riveted. But then I thought a little more and realized that if nobody is voting, then no one would really care to read about the actual process.
However, a few interesting things happened at our poll, so I thought I’d write about those incidents. For the most part though, it was a slow day, so I got to chat with my lovely Deputy Returning Officer partner Micheline.
We had 350 ballots, and 125 people voted. That’s a turnout of around 30-something per cent, less than the 49 per cent average.
No one spoiled their ballot at all, which is surprising. Dalton McGuinty won by about a dozen votes.

The literature on getting people to vote usually notes two actions that appear to work, and Elections Ontario is employing them.

The first is using voter registration cards. And this seems to be the case.  Most people who voted handed us one when they came to our table. It made the process quicker and easier as well.

Civic education from an early age is also a key to raising citizens that are interested in voting. Throughout the day, teachers escorted groups of children (we were stationed at an elementary school in a massive, unheated gymnasium) through the voting station. They seemed to pay attention as the Supervising Deputy Returning Officer explained the voting process. The best question, to which absolutely no one had an answer was: “What happens if nobody votes?”

So there it is. Democracy in action. Apparently at least one person finds this exciting, as one fellow raised his hands and cheered this out loud after he had finished voting: “Woohoo! Democracy in action!!!”

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