Convenience Isn’t The Problem With Voting. People Not Giving A Shit About Voting Is

Gym, tan, laundry… vote?: Ontario asked to consider weekend, holiday elections
Report on June 2018 provincial election makes recommendations aimed at boosting voter turnout

Don’t get me wrong. More flexibility absolutely can’t hurt. But I don’t think that’s the biggest issue we’re up against here.

If we really want to solve the turnout problem, we have to solve voter apathy. How do we convince people who believe that their vote doesn’t matter because everybody who runs ends up being a liar or a crook or that the entire system is built for and controlled by big money and big business that those beliefs are wrong, especially when there’s quite obviously some truth to them? Carin once described the choices in a past election as poop, shit or crap, and she’s someone who cares enough to go out of her way to vote in all of them at every level. If she feels it, how are the people who don’t care feeling?

I don’t know how we fix this. The easy answer is get better politicians, duh, But that’s not a good answer. Good people run for and win public offices all the time, but the nature of politics is such that you’ve got to have at least a little bit of scumbag in you if you want to find yourself in a position to truly help steer the ship. The only way that’s ever going to change is for party politics as we know it to die, and for every MP/MPP/MLA/whatever to be given true independence to represent his riding and his conscience. If everyone sitting in a house of parliament had to run on their individual successes and failures rather than those of their leaders, a lot more good would get done, because it would have to.

But since that’s not happening, we’re right back where we started. And I think that means that our best hope is the generations after mine. They seem so much more invested than we ever did. I don’t remember anyone at my high school ever organizing a giant anti-government protest, let alone being able to explain more clearly than some adults why they were doing it. Hell, I could hardly have the most basic of political conversations with a lot of my friends at that age.

So good on you guys for being passionate. Just please, no matter what, keep it up. Don’t let the system wear you down like it has so many my age and older. It’s going to feel at times like your vote doesn’t matter, but don’t let that stop you from trying again. They can’t not listen to all of us forever, and voting is where it starts. If your government is awful (Hi Doug!), make them pay. But if you’re content, don’t sit back and think it’s always going to be this way, because it won’t. There were people who thought Trump could never win and didn’t bother voting. What if they had? Don’t be a what if.

And yes, older generations, I’m talking to you too. It wouldn’t kill you to take a cue from or set a good example for these youngsters by doing your part. You may not have the same priorities as they do, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have any. We all do. They may not always be reflected in our representation, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth standing up for.

Somebody Just Voted Himself Off The Christmas Card List

This looks like your standard, run-of-the-mill campaign ad, but then…

Holy shit, did not see that coming.

Yes, that really is six of Republican Congressman Paul Gosar’s nine siblings telling the good people of Arizona not to vote for their brother and to instead support his opponent, Democratic candidate David Brill. It didn’t work, but points for one hell of a try, my man. And good on all of those family members for having the courage to do that, even though it’s surely going to make special occasions awkward as hell until at least the end of time.

Trump Sucks. Please Vote


LEST WE FORGET THE HORRORS: A CATALOG OF TRUMP’S WORST CRUELTIES, COLLUSIONS, CORRUPTIONS, AND CRIMES

There are many depressing words in this article, but I think the most depressing come right at the start when it’s noted that “This is the first in a series.”

And that is, unfortunately, no lie. The first link covers atrocities 1 through 112, starting in 2011 and ending in February of 2017. If you click this one, you’ll find 113 to 197, covering only the period of March and April that year. Moving right along, we have 198-291, which takes us through July. I remind you, we’re talking about July of 2017, not 2018. Those will doubtless be covered in 292-388 and beyond, which are still to come.

This is, assuming there’s nothing the matter with you, not ideal.

If you don’t consider everything here to be an atrocity, that’s fine. We all have different things that are important to us and it’s ok to disagree sometimes. But nobody should be able to make a list of shittyish things this long that can all be tied back to one person, especially when that one person happens to be the one with the launch codes. There’s no arguing that.

So if, like me, you don’t think this is ideal but if, unlike me, you are able to make some choices and try to fix it, please vote in every election you can. Here is a page that can help you get yourself registered to do just that.

Thanks in advance, on behalf of the world.

Best! Inaccessible! Voting! Experience! Ever!

I want to take a second to thank the folks working the polls at the Activa Sportsplex in Kitchener last night for one of the better voting experiences I’ve ever had.

None of you were outwardly freaked out by the sight of unaccompanied blind people roaming loose in the wild.

None of you tried to pawn us off on somebody else who very clearly wanted even less to do with us than you did.

None of you tried to force us to sign our independent voting rights over to a random stranger.

None of you tried to aggressively explain to the man and woman who have been blind for nearly forty years each that this metal thing with a couple of numbers written on it is a Braille ballot so we’re good now.

No. all that every one of you did was help.

From the person who greeted us at the front of the line to the ladies who helped us make sure all of our choices were marked correctly to the nice woman at the tabulation station who made sure I knew my ballot went into the box and even went so far as to tell me which voter I was sequentially that day, you were all awesome.

Rarely have I had an easier, more pleasant or more efficient day at the polls, and that includes polls that had the accessible voting technology operating.

Don’t get me wrong, I still absolutely, 100 percent believe that every polling station on every day of every election at every level of government should have this technology available regardless of logistics or cost because it’s the right thing to do, but fair is fair, and everyone we dealt with last night did a fantastic job and should be commended for that. It’s just too bad that you all are the exception and not the rule.

I don’t have a whole lot to say about the results of the election (partly because I just don’t and partly because we still don’t know who won everything), but good on the cities that voted to give ranked ballots a try. It’s going to be an interesting experiment. Maybe it won’t ultimately work out better than first-past-the-post, but it’s certainly worth a try. My only concern is that it’s going to put more demand on a public that already can’t be arsed to vote more than half the time to be even more informed and I fear that even more may not bother. I envision turnout initially going up some because of the novelty of a new system, but hopefully the end result isn’t people finding it too cumbersome.

Ranked ballots, by the way, are a very good argument for assistive voting machines assuming anyone still needs a good argument for those. Nobody should have to sit there with me while I mull over whether Frank is the second or third best choice for a job or whether I should say screw it and go with Bob in first when initially I was voting for Jane all the way and Bob wasn’t even making the cut. Part of the right to vote is the right to change one’s mind up until the last possible second, and that, just like the rest of the process, needs to be as simple as possible for everyone.

Who Are You And What Am I Voting For

Although I obviously care very much about what happens in Kitchener seeing as I live here and whatnot, I’ll freely admit to not always being as up on local politics as I’d like to be. That said, I still intend on voting in the municipal election this month, because not voting in elections is one of those things I don’t really care for.

Also on the list of things I don’t really care for is voting in elections while not knowing shit from shinola, so in that spirit, I shall offer up a few handy pages to hopefully help all of us along when it comes to making informed decisions.

First up, the Kitchener Post asked everyone running for Mayor and city Council a single question: Why should the public vote for you? Though it’s only one question, it’s helpful. It’s helped me make one decision and has me questioning the other. The page is broken down by ward, so you won’t have to waste a bunch of time sifting through a pile of responses that don’t apply to you if that’s not your thing. And don’t worry. If you’re sitting there right now all like “What’s a ward?”, there’s a map for that.

Moving on from the city to the region, the CBC sent a five question survey to the four candidates running for Regional Chair. Their responses are here. They too are helpful.

I haven’t yet been able to find things similar to these for Regional Council or school board representatives, but if I do I’ll add them here. In the meantime, you can also check out WRVotes.com for all sorts of election info for Kitchener and beyond.

See you on October 22nd, if not sooner.

Quarter In The Courts

This is nice. One-Quarter of Ontario PC Candidates Currently Face Lawsuits, Probes and Police Investigations

Obviously not all of these people won, but Doug Ford and his band of miscreants were easily handed a majority government on Thursday, so obviously some of them did.

All of this is important, but there are four things of particular note.

  1. It’s actually more than a quarter of them. The real number, according to Press Progress, is 27.6%. Or to put it another way, 34 out of 123 people who sincerely expected you to trust them to run literally everything important around here might be criminals.
  2. The list I linked to isn’t even a complete one.

    That number does not include several revelations in the lead up to the election,  including allegations ex-PC leader Patrick Brown misappropriated party funds, allegations the PC party president sexually assaulted a young staffer, an investigation launched by Hamilton police looking into claims party officials rigged a nomination meeting or over a dozen other accusations of election fraud at Tory nomination meetings across Ontario.

    It goes on to note that what’s compiled here only covers a single month, which is more than enough, really.

  3. Doug Ford, A.K.A. the guy in charge, personally appears on the list more than once. There’s the lawsuit filed against him by brother Rob Ford’s widow accusing him of ripping her and her kids off to the tune of 16 and a half million dollars to prop up failing businesses and his own lifestyle, the time’s he’s accused of committing election fraud and breaking campaign financing rules, and of course he appears over and over again to defend everyone else’s misdeeds.
  4. All of this was public knowledge well before election season, yet a bunch of you still endorsed it at the ballot box. The hell?

It’s going to be a long four years. For those of you holding out hope that it won’t last that long, I’m sorry. It will. Trump is about to hit a year and a half and he shouldn’t have lasted a week. By that standard, Ford has nothing to worry about no matter what he does. Even throwing out the Trump factor, the voters of Ontario have already made that crystal clear.

Go Home Ontario, You’re Drunk. Possibly ON Buck-A-Beer Meant To Distract You From The Fact That You Just Voted In A Total Asshat


So. Premier Doug Ford is a thing now.

I’m not going to say I’m surprised. I can’t. The existence of Donald J. Trump, President of the United States makes being surprised by an election result pretty well impossible. But what I can say is that I’m incredibly disappointed. More than anything I’m disappointed in the nearly 43 percent of people who didn’t bother voting, but I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t also disappointed by what the people who did chose to do. Yes, I’m glad you made your voice heard, as is your right. I’d rather you do that than not do it. But since we’re talking about rights, it’s my right to think that your voice is kind of dumb and awful. How people who looked at their options and the state of the province could decide who needs better public transit or higher pay for people who are struggling or expanded health coverage or any of a thousand other things that would benefit everyone, I’m voting for the guy who doesn’t seem to like gay people or minorities or the disabled all that much but might give us reasonably priced beer is baffling. It’s baffling because this is Canada, where we’ve spent so much of the last two years talking about how aware we are compared to Americans and how there’s no way a Trump could ever happen here. I don’t know that Doug Ford is Trump in his purest form, but he’s a bit too close for comfort in some ways. It’s a damn shame that people couldn’t get past their blind hatred for the Liberals or fear of the NDP and see that.

Of course I want Doug Ford to do well. I hope he assembles a competent team to guide him. A team that will help him govern fairly and reasonably and has the courage to talk him out of doing a lot of the really stupid stuff. I hope that he has objectively good ideas and that they work as intended. If those things happen, we’ll all be better for it. But I’ll be honest, it can get hard to have hope for things like those on days like this.

But hey, there was some good news last night. The streak lives!

The party with the least number of votes?
That’s the Pauper Party of Ontario, which is currently sitting with 111 votes … or 0.00 per cent of the popular vote. The party is run by John Turmel, the man who holds the Guinness record for the most elections run in and the most elections lost.
But don’t feel bad for Turmel. He’s already announced he’s running for mayor in the municipal election this fall in Brantford.

The record now stands at 93, I believe. Well done, Jiu-Jitsu John!

Hi! It’s Adam From the Ontario NDP. Do You Have Some Random Numbers I Can Dial?

I don’t know how widespread it is, but the NDP is causing a bit of annoyance in some places thanks to texts from someone or something calling itself Adam.

A lot of locals aren’t happy about receiving random texts on their cell phones from the New Democratic Party.
The texts started popping up on phones earlier this week.

“Hi! It’s Adam from the Ontario NDP. Do you know about the election happening on June 7?” it reads.
It then advises to reply “stop” if you want to “opt out” and that SMS rates may apply.
People responding would find themselves in a political discussion with “Adam” who would also provide links to the NDP platform on issues.

I haven’t gotten any of these myself, and I’m not sure how much of a problem I’d have with it if I did. On the surface it’s basically a modern version of a party calling you, and it’s even less irritating because you don’t have to get up from dinner to answer it because it might be something important. Man do I ever not miss those days at all. Whoever invented caller ID should win every award that exists and a few I can make up if those aren’t enough.

But while the text itself may not bug me, I’m not so sure about the NDP’s response to the controversy.

“We use texting as part of our program to get voters out on election day to cast their ballots,” Party spokesman Jared Walker told GuelphToday. “We use texting, but we do NOT use lists.”

Ok, so then where do the numbers come from?

“If you receive a text from us, you’ve either signed up OR you’ve received a random text that comes with an opt-out option. Our texting method is sort of like our door-knocking method, we visit everyone!”

First of all, if people have signed up, that’s a list. But the bigger issue is the random part. Sending hundreds or thousands of texts at a time helplessly into the wind and hoping that maybe a few will land? That sounds inefficient. It also sounds an awful lot like spam.

If you guys are using lists, just admit it. And if you aren’t, maybe now might be a good time to start. It seems like a much better strategy than what you’re doing now, bothering people with cell phones and confusing old folks with landlines.

Info About Accessible Voting For This Provincial Election

It’s time for another election. Where the heck did those four years go? It doesn’t feel like nearly four years ago that I wrote this post about the trials and tribulations of accessible voting, but the calendar doesn’t lie.

I have to say that this year, they seem to have made an accessible voting one-stop shop to read about all things accessible voting, which is a definite improvement from last election. I know exactly when and where I can vote with assistive voting technology. The options are still limited, but there’s no way I will show up at an advance polling location thinking the assistive voting tech will be there.

But I have a question. Under the section called “accessible services for voters at voting locations, one of the listed options is written as follows:

Voters may use their mobile phones as an accessibility device.

What does that even mean? Does that mean “If you have magnification software on that phone, you can feel free to use it? I don’t think there’s anything you can interface with and send your ballot via text message or anything like that. If that’s what it means, how is that an accessible service they’re providing? I was not aware that you couldn’t enter the booth with your phone, and only now, out of their generosity, could you do such a thing. You’re basically bringing your own accessibility. How is that a service provided by Elections Ontario? Or, does it mean something else and they need to be clearer? If so, please, someone, set me straight.

I’m sure we will have a story or two about our voting experience. We always do. But I thought I would get this up nice and early, unlike last time.

Strategic Voting Is Still Not Worth Your Time

Though I personally think it’s stupid, nonsensical and based on little more than hope and magical fairy dust, I do understand the urge some people have to participate in strategic voting campaigns. Our election system is a bit screwy, sometimes allowing candidates to claim seats with some rather low percentages. So yes, the temptation to try to use that to your advantage makes sense. But the problem, and this happens in pretty much every election ever, is that it simply doesn’t work. Why? Because polls, much like vote strategically efforts, are kind of garbage. A poll can say whatever it wants leading into an election, but none of it matters. The only poll that counts is the one where you have to go down to a school or a church or whatever and actually vote, and since there are often many undecided voters and because sometimes people change their minds when they get there among other factors, things tend to turn out differently than expected. So when you use iffy science to plan your methodical takedown of the villain you don’t want elected, it’s kind of like throwing blindfolded at a dart board. Maybe you’ll hit what you’re aiming at or maybe you’ll put a nice hole in the wall, who really knows? Not the strategic voting planners, it turns out.

The polls from the 2013 B.C. election are perhaps the most pertinent here. For a solid month, the Liberals trailed the NDP in every poll. On Election Day, Angus Reid—an established polling company—had the NDP at 45 per cent of decided voters and leaners, with the governing Liberals in second place with 36 per cent.  ThreeHundredEight.com projected 49 seats for the NDP, compared to just 35 for the Liberals. If ever anyone was a lock for the B.C. premiership, surely it was NDP leader Adrian Dix. “IF THIS MAN KICKED A DOG, HE’D STILL WIN THE ELECTION!” blared the front page of The Province. But the only poll that mattered told a different story: voters delivered 44.4 per cent of the popular vote and 50 of the province’s 85 seats to the Liberals; the NDP’s 39.5 per cent vote share and 34 seats were a poor consolation prize. (No word on how many dogs Adrian Dix kicked during the final hours of his campaign.)
Not exactly confidence-inspiring. I asked Vote Strategic BC (@votestrategicbc), which encourages anti-Liberal voters to engage in poll-based decision-making, “Could you tell me what makes these polls more reliable than the ones that predicted an NDP government at this time four years ago?” Their response was frank, if nothing else: “Nope. Just something to think about. Some of my data is past election results. Current % projections from @2closetocall.” I then posed the same question to Bryan Breguet at @2closetocall; he replied, “I wish I had a good answer but I don’t… at the end of the day, we can only hope.” He mentioned that the 2017 polls used different methodologies; whether those methodologies address the 2013 polls’ shortcomings (including failing to account for the 11 per cent of voters who made their decision on voting day) is a different matter.

I’ll say it again. Don’t waste your time on this stuff, you guys. It’s time better spent learning the candidates and the issues and making the choice that’s right for you. You’re probably not changing the world either way, but your odds are slightly better.