Canadians are lucky, in many ways, when it comes to our electoral system, because we get to make choices.
We can choose to vote for something we want. But we can also choose to vote ‘strategically,’ that is to say, vote against something we don’t want. The concept of strategic voting will have some part to play in this month’s federal election. It comes with a multi-party, first-past-the-post electoral system.
It’s difficult to say what impact strategic voting will have in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, for a couple of reasons. The latest polls have shown enough separation locally that voters can be reasonably confident their ballot won’t ‘split the vote,’ though we know, at the same time, that polls can be unreliable.
Another consideration is the redrawn electoral boundaries. Nanaimo-Ladysmith doesn’t have a voting history, because it’s a brand-new riding. ‘Vote-splitting’ could be a major factor here, or it could have a minimal impact, and that sense of unknown might lead to people voting strategically, just in case.
Some would argue that strategic voting is contradictory to the tenets of democracy. We don’t believe that to be true. Individual voters have the right to decide how they want to vote, and why they want to vote that way, for their personal reasons. If voting against a particular party – rather than voting for their preferred party – will get them closer to what they want, then maybe, for some Canadians, that’s enough.
And as for those who vote for what they want, and demand the very best Canada and won’t compromise and don’t have a second choice, how could anyone argue that those people are wasting their vote?
Because here’s the thing about strategic voting. Sure, it ensures we’re not ‘wasting’ our vote. But really, the only wasted votes are the ones that never get cast.