I've been eligible to vote for 23 years now. And I've not missed an election. I've voted in everyone - Municipal, Provincial, Federal. I even got my absentee ballot sent to me for a federal election while I was living in the States.
When I was younger I was much more politically active. In sixth grade I jumped at the chance to run in a classroom election mirroring the current provincial campaign (I didn't win). Even before I could vote I volunteered on a campaign for my then party of choice, photocopying campaign literature and making buttons.(The button machine was fun! Who does that anymore??) In university I did more work, even working as Election Day Organiser for a friend's campaign. That was an unbelievable experience! From the phone canvassing to recruiting and organising volunteers. Voting with the candidate and her Campaign Manager, being there for the results. Wow.
I've supported different parties over the years. Sometimes an individual candidate really spoke to me. Sometimes the party platform and vision won my vote.
But I've always voted. It's a right and a privilege. And it's a responsibility. A responsibility to educate yourself on the issues and where the parties stand. A responsibility to make a sound, well-thought out decision for the future. We are lucky to have this opportunity to have a say in our government and we shouldn't take it for granted.
But this time I am very frustrated with the options in front of me. I find I don't trust the leaders, and I'm deeply worried about what will come out of this one. I've had numerous people speak to me about how they are voting and why. I've had some make strong suggestions that I should vote one way or another. I won't get into the specifics of why I find I can't support this one or that one. I don't want to talk politics here on my blog, not in that way. I think though that this may be the first time in my 23 years of voting that I actually spoil my ballot.
I'm not happy about it, but I am also not happy about supporting any of the candidates in my riding. (As an aside, my riding has had the same incumbent for so long, I really don't think there's any question of who will win there.) I think that it is better for me to show up and spoil my ballot rather than to sit home and do nothing. I would like to think (perhaps naively) that a spoiled ballot is noticed and that it counts for something. I want my spoiled ballot to be a statement.
So, my message to you, is get out there and vote. I hope you have had a good chance to assess the parties. I hope you have put thought into your decision. And if your decision is that they all suck, then consider adding your statement to mine.
But, really? It's your call. That's your right!