Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Friday, September 26, 2008

My two cents on strategic voting

I sympathize with everything JimBobby says about why he won't vote strategically. I wouldn't be able to do it, either. I grew up in a place where there were no choices I could believe in, and I would never voluntarily give up my hard-won ability to support a candidate I can truly get behind. I'm fortunate enough to live in a riding where I don't have to even consider it, but I wouldn't do it even if the circumstances were different.

On the other hand, I also have a lot of sympathy for the arguments being put forward in favour of strategic voting, as well. If it's more important to you to try to combat the Conservatives than it is to vote your conscience, then you should do that. Because of the voting system we're stuck with, progressives sometimes have to evaluate the situations in our individual ridings and make a choice between casting our single vote for something, and casting it against something. The "choice" part is key, though. Initiatives that propose to reduce the amount of choice are not the answer. Only when each Canadian gets to make a choice from our entire colourful spectrum can we really talk about living in a democracy.

I also agree with James Bow that there's no sense in getting angry at the various party leaders for asking people to vote for them. They're not "putting their selfish interests ahead of the country" or whatever people are denouncing it as these days, they're doing their jobs. A party leader's job is to try to convince us their choice is the best choice, and we as individual voters get to decide whether they're right or not. Strategic voting initiatives are fine, but they have to come from the grassroots, not from political parties.

The most important thing is this: if you do vote strategically, do it in an informed way. It only has a chance of working in a small number of ridings, and everybody who's not living in one of those ridings should feel completely comfortable voting with their hearts. So how do you find out whether your riding is one of the ridings where strategic voting might help? Well, you're in luck--while we used to have to do our own research, these days there are websites that do it for you. Find a site that's promoting strategic voting in this election, make sure its recommendations are completely non-partisan and truly data-driven (the strategic voting guide should be out on Monday, but in the meantime the Vote For Environment folks seem like your best bet), and look up your riding. The site should tell you how to best vote strategically, why that choice makes the most sense, and how they came up with that pick.

And of course, once you're done voting, swallow down that icky taste in your mouth and come join in the fight for the only real fix for the pickle we're in, which is proportional representation.


skdadl said...

Great post. I agree completely.

L-girl said...

Beautiful! I was waiting for you to nail it and you did. Thanks.

JimBobby said...

Whooee! Good post, IP. You're on the money a hunnert percent's worth regarding the fact that there are a small handful of ridings where a strategic vote campaign could make a difference. Any voter even considering such a move should research just how close the race is in their riding. Out here in the rural ridings, we don't get the same level polling that some urban ridings get, so it can be more difficult to gauge.

As you noted, I won't be voting strategically, but some people will. Let's hope that they do so in an educated way and not simply by wishfully thinking a lot of others in their riding are doing the same.