Speaker’s Corner

Where you can have your say.

Please stay on the topic of Fair Voting or Proportional Representation.

I recently received a message from Allison Walters, as follows:

Subject: Voter education 

The current Alberta election has got me wondering how much is done in shelters, assisted living communities, and other similar situations to help people educate themselves on and vote in elections. I’ve written a couple of local shelters to try to get an idea if anything’s being done and/or if they could use more assistance, but I thought I’d check with you guys (Fair Vote Calgary) as well. I realise it’s not exactly part of the core mandate of Fairvote, but I figure it’s at least peripherally related. :-) I’d love to see an (at least as reasonably as possible) impartial, non-partisan set of educational material and instructions for voting aimed towards these audiences, that could just be updated by election and with minor tweaks used across the country. Any idea if anything like this exists, and/or if you have any members that would be interested in helping to create or deploy it?

I replied:

As you surmised, it isn’t really in our main mandate, which is to get the system changed to proportional representation. The result of doing so (getting PR as The System) should be greater voter participation, including the constituencies you mention.

Have you looked at the national web site? There may be something in the Resources page which would help you. After tomorrow ;-) there may be help available from Elections Alberta. Regrettably the federal government in its so-called Fair Elections Act took away the capability of Elections Canada to promote voting and voter education, and made it harder for the constituencies you speak for to actually vote due to more stringent identification requirements. It looks like someone may have to step forward to assume the role . . . might that be you?

Fair Vote Calgary has no money, and Fair Vote Canada is stretched to the limit this year especially to make this year the last unfair election, and to make every vote count. However if you need space to follow up on the issue, we could consider putting our web site to use – for example adding resources to the web page headed – well, ‘Resources’ – if you find suitable materials. We could create a page devoted to basic ‘get out the vote’ (or get the vote out to people who can’t get out to vote). Let’s discuss it when the dust settles after today . . .

And Allison just came back:

That sounds great; thank you! I’m still in the very early stages of investigating what is needed (if anything), so any input anyone has is awesome. So far it sounds like most of the big shelters had at least some form of program for their residents, but all also sounded happy for help.


If anyone would like to help Allison or has new ideas, please email her through calgary@fairvote.ca (that’s me) and I will forward your message to her and post it here.

Mark Hambridge