It’s E-Day, and probably time for the old get-out-and-vote pep talk. You know the one: “It’s your city, make your voice heard.” You could probably write it yourself by now.
But I’m afraid my credibility on the subject is a bit lacking. I’m not voting today. My inaction isn’t any kind of statement or symptom of disillusionment with the choices on offer; I just didn’t get around to it.
I’m out of town today, and I was so busy I lost track of the advance voting days, and I’ve just moved to another ward and on and pathetically on. I have a fine pile of excuses, but they’re just that. A good friend of mine even offered to cast a proxy vote for me, but I declined. This is nothing more than half-assed citizenship, and I’m ashamed of myself.
The sensation grows worse when I see some signs of some real commitment in others. A record number of candidates are standing for office today, 20 running for mayor alone with varying degrees of plausibility. I feel even lamer about my laxity when I think about only woman running for mayor, anti-poverty activist Jane Scharf, crashing candidates’ debates to which she hasn’t been invited and insisting on having her say until the cops drag her away. Sure it’s a bit kooky, but it’s also passionate.
Voting feels good. I like the atmosphere at the polling station, often a school gym or a church. The automated phone messages, lawn signs, flyers and Twitter feeds all fade into the background, and it’s just me and my neighbours lining up to do a little democracy. It’s humble and grand all at the same time.
But I’ve never been an electoral extremist. I don’t want to make voting mandatory or fine people for not doing it. That defeats the purpose of making a choice and frankly, if today’s the only day you paid any mind to the issues that affect your city, if you really don’t know what you think, maybe do the rest of us a favour and don’t bother. Maybe no vote’s better than a dumb vote.
Of course, the next time you catch me raving on about the latest fatuity issuing from city hall, feel free to remind me that the last time I had a chance to do something about it, apparently it was too much trouble. That should shut me up.