OUR VIEW: Falling voter turnout a disturbing trend

We say: Elections are contests between powerful and the loud

With all the speculation about the coming provincial election campaign, little attention is rarely paid to an alarming trend — the rate of voter participation is dropping steadily, and in 20 years, it may be at minimal levels.

All this happens as governments at all levels take more and more money from taxpayers’ pockets, and face significant challenges.

In the 2009 provincial election, the turnout was just over 50 per cent.

As NDP leader Adrian Dix put it bluntly at a recent luncheon meeting in Langley, the BC Liberals were actually elected by 23 per cent of the people eligible to vote, while his party in opposition  received votes from just 21 per cent of those eligible.

As recently as 1983, 70 per cent of those eligible voted in a provincial election.

Dix is correct in diagnosing that an increasing number of young people don’t see any point in voting. Most are not disinterested in the world around them, but they don’t see voting or being involved with a political party as making any real difference.

As a result of this disinterest, Dix says elections (and governing)  increasingly are reduced to contests between the powerful and the loud, with almost everyone else shunted off to the sidelines. It’s not a good omen for democracy.

There must be concerted efforts to get young people to engage in voting. Dix has proposed having 16-year-olds on the voters’ list, so they’re ready to  vote at 18. This and other measures need to be looked at as well.

– Black Press