Why some Hamilton-area residents are choosing not to vote this municipal election


Municipal elections in Ontario are lower than two weeks away, however not everybody plans on submitting a poll on Oct. 24. 

While the turnout for the provincial election in June hit a report low with 43 per cent of eligible voters casting a poll, municipal elections typically see even much less engagement.

According to figures from the Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO), the general voter turnout for the 2018 municipal elections in Ontario was 38 per cent. In Hamilton, turnout in 2018 was additionally 38 per cent. 

CBC Hamilton spoke with a number of folks who’ve determined not to vote in this 12 months’s municipal election — to perceive why some select not to take part in native elections — in addition to organizations that are working to see extra eligible voters engaged at a municipal stage. 

Hassaan Naeem, 27, resides in Ancaster along with his mother and father and at the moment works from residence, in software program growth.

Naeem mentioned he has lived within the Hamilton space for greater than a decade, with stints in Waterloo and Toronto whereas attending college.

CBC Hamilton spoke with him in Ancaster on Oct. 5. When requested about his ideas on the upcoming election, he mentioned he did not know there was one.

Naeem mentioned he voted up to now two federal elections, however not the provincial and was unlikely to vote within the municipal election. He mentioned he thinks the federal authorities has extra energy to impression the problems that are vital to him, like pupil debt forgiveness. 

“All the new matters of focus, like pupil debt, are normally associated to federal points, and little or no to municipal points, which is why I might say I do not observe an excessive amount of,” he mentioned.

Samantha Reusch is the manager director for Apathy is Boring, a non-partisan political engagement group based mostly in Montreal. (Submitted by Apathy is Boring)

Samantha Reusch, government director of Montreal-based non-profit group Apathy is Boring, says eligible voters like Naeem, between the ages of 18 and 34, are extra possible to dwell between a number of municipalities as a result of they are attending school or college. That can impression whether or not they find yourself voting.

“Sometimes there will be administrative obstacles the place they do not know the place they’re registered,” she mentioned, including that these voters may not really feel linked to their new communities sufficient to vote municipally. 

Apathy is Boring works to interact that age group in all ranges of politics throughout the nation. Reusch says youthful voters can lack the motivation to vote — typically as a result of they may really feel candidates are not addressing points younger folks care about, and that younger folks may not really feel “elected representatives or candidates make… an effort to do outreach” with them. 

Naeem mentioned he hasn’t put a lot thought into why he does not vote municipally.

“It’s type of shocked me why I’ve by no means been concerned,” he mentioned, reflecting on his engagement. As a bicycle owner, the municipal authorities’s function in constructing bike lanes does pique his curiosity, he added.

The McMaster Student Union has been working to interact younger pupil voters within the municipal election, by way of social media posts, selling the on-campus “on-demand ballot” on Oct. 18, and internet hosting occasions equivalent to an upcoming mayoral debate on Oct. 17.

‘You ask a query, you do not get a particular sure’

Jo Anne Stoddart, 63, lives in Burlington along with her 85-year-old mom. Stoddart mentioned she has voted in most elections however is not certain if she is going to this month. 

“I’ve at all times been a giant believer in voting,” she mentioned, including that she has change into disillusioned with voting on the municipal stage and thinks different ranges of presidency have extra sway in coverage selections, particularly when it comes to city planning and developments.

A woman in her sixties wearing a pink shirt smiles.
Jo Anne Stoddart mentioned she has voted frequently however this 12 months she could not. (Submitted by Jo Anne Stoddart )

“[Municipal elected officials] plan one thing after which the federal government, the provincial authorities says ‘No, we would like it this a lot greater.'”

Stoddart mentioned she’s involved over how the town is rising. She is not opposed to constructing extra condominiums in Burlington, she says, however thinks the town is constructing too many directly and not enthusiastic about the way it will impression the downtown’s infrastructure. 

Stoddart mentioned she can also be disinclined to vote as a result of she thinks politicians do not give straight solutions. 

“It looks as if you ask a query, you do not get a particular ‘sure,'” she mentioned, including she feels they often blame others for selections.

Some really feel disregarded of the dialog 

For others, the choice not to vote will be much more complicated. 

Katrina Chaisson is a resident within the east finish of Hamilton, and a Mi’kmaw girl. She mentioned does not observe politics, and the final time she voted was at a federal stage, after then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper tried to finish Canada Post residence supply service. 

“My mom instructed me to vote, God relaxation her soul, and I voted that one time,” she mentioned. 

Other than that, Chaisson mentioned she seems like the problems that impression her, like homelessness and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, have not been mentioned sufficient by this 12 months’s municipal candidates. 

“They want to do extra for the Indigenous folks,” Chaisson mentioned. 

Tera Cardinal has suggested Apathy is Boring on how political candidates can higher join with Indigenous folks throughout the nation.

“Indigenous folks aren’t being engaged by politicians,” mentioned Cardinal, who’s Cree and works as an advocate for Indigenous college students at Mount Royal University in Alberta. “They type of count on us not to take part.”

“Indigenous folks did not get the fitting to vote till 1960 and residential college did not cease till ’96, and I can assure you they did not educate the voting course of in residential college,” she mentioned. 

The Hamilton Regional Indian Centre hosted an occasion in late August, the place the entire municipal candidates had been invited to communicate with Hamilton’s city Indigenous inhabitants. 

HRIC may also have its personal superior polling station on Oct. 21, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

A poster with a drawing of an Indigenous, with information on when and where you can vote on the right hand side.
The Hamilton Regional Indian Centre hosted a mayoral candidate dialogue, and could have a sophisticated ballot for the city Indigenous neighborhood on Oct. 21. (Hamilton Regional Indian Centre/Facebook)

Violetta Nikolskaya, senior program analyst for the YWCA Hamilton, helps placed on Reaching for Power, a yearly convention that started in 2020, which she mentioned is “a possibility to interact queer, trans and different Black, Indigenous, ladies of color and gender various people in civic engagement.” 

“An absence of illustration [in elected positions]… causes people to not see themselves represented in politics and due to this fact [they are] not impressed to take part,” she mentioned. 

Nikolskaya mentioned the YWCA can also be making an attempt to interact folks experiencing homelessness, one other demographic that always does not take part in voting. 

“One factor that we’re doing is guaranteeing that each one of our congregate residing areas, together with our transitional residing program and our in a single day drop in shelter, have entry to vote,” she mentioned. 

“For the remainder of Hamilton, this is completely an election they need to vote in as a result of their voice actually issues,” she mentioned.


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