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Gambling on Edmonton's voter apathy

So, what do you think the chances are that October’s civic election will produce a higher turnout than the last one?

So, what do you think the chances are that October’s civic election will produce a higher turnout than the last one?

Will the idea of a publicly-funded downtown area create hordes of voters? Will the prospect of closing the City Centre Airport create a voter groundswell? Will 12 wards generate renewed voter interest? Will the money we have wasted on the Indy create a voter backlash?

As you may recall, the last time we voted in a civic election, an underwhelming 27.24 per cent of eligible voters bothered to cast a ballot. Assuming that all the signatures were valid, that means the Envision Edmonton, the “don’t close the City Centre Airport because we will lose money and untold numbers of people will die and their blood will be on your hands,” there were about the same number of people to sign a petition as who voted for our current mayor. A sad set of circumstances at best.

So what can we do to make this election more interesting for voters? We could try to get some really interesting people to run for city council, but that is unlikely. So, how about some kind of betting program? Goodness knows that in this province we certainly like to wager our hard-earned dollars. We could get the men and women who do such things in Las Vegas to set the odds for how many people will actually vote, who will win the mayor’s chair and who will win in each of the 12 wards the same way they do for a sports book. With that in place, maybe we could even bet the vote spread between the winners and losers. It would make the election fun for the whole family.

I suspect people who had money riding on a particular individual in this election would want to work hard to see them get elected. It certainly works that way for developers and unions. They pony up money and then work hard to make sure whoever they are backing gets elected and then does their bidding.

But then again, maybe the good citizens of Edmonton have seen the error of their ways. Maybe this time we will see a 70 per cent turnout. That is the way it should be. Civic politicians have a direct impact on the quality of our day-to-day lives. It’s possible, I suppose. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

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