EDITORIAL: Groups strive to fight apathy

Efforts to inform voters rely on voters who care enough to pay attention.

Community groups in Nanaimo are doing their best to keep one aspect out of Saturday’s (Nov. 19) municipal election – voter apathy.

From online forums created by the South End Community Association, rallying calls to get out and vote by the Young Professionals of Nanaimo and a fresh version of an all-candidates meeting by the Coalition for Democratic Nanaimo, opportunities are available to learn more about those seeking office and ask them questions about their platforms and vision for the city.

In a campaign dominated by the social housing issue, these groups provide one key ingredient necessary to cast a vote – information about a candidate that can’t be clearly gleamed from a glossy pamphlet or 30-second sound bite during a question and answer period.

In the case of the Democratic Nanaimo forum, it wasn’t so much about the issues as allowing the audience to see how candidates interacted with others and might perform if elected to council.

Social media has become the go-to forum for people to get informed. That’s why the News Bulletin made sure in its reporting, each candidate profile included a website, blog or Twitter address (if they were available).

But as you can only lead a horse to water but not make it drink, the final responsibility lies with the voters.

In the 2008 civic election, about one-third of eligible Nanaimo voters turned out to choose who would guide our city and school district.

This year, community-minded citizens have taken the first step to erase that apathy, to give the people every reason to vote and have a say in Nanaimo’s present and future. Now, it’s up to the voters to take the all-important next step.