Our View: Election could use more voters

Turnout is typically terrible in local elections, and should be improved.

The last two major elections – federal in 2015 and provincial this year – certainly ended with some major changes.

We went from Conservative to Liberal in Ottawa, and from Liberal to NDP-Green in Victoria.

On the local level, major upsets tend to come along about once a decade, maybe less.

But with less than a year to go, our local election appears to be already underway. Councillor Kim Richter, one of the longest-serving members of the council, has thrown her hat into the ring to run for mayor. Incumbent Jack Froese is planning to try to stay on. And there could be other contenders.

We can already guess what some of the major election issues will be – growth and development, taxes, roads, and the need for municipal services.

But we’d like to raise an issue that usually only comes up after the election – turnout.

Local elections are among the most important you can vote in. In the Township just this year, we have seen or expect major votes on neighbourhood planning, homelessness, and transportation infrastructure.

And then there are the dozens of smaller votes – local rezonings that are intensely important to the few dozen or hundred people who will be affected.

Yet our election turnout is incredibly low. In 2014, Langley Township saw a turnout of almost 30 per cent – which was a 15-year high. In Langley City, it was around 20 per cent.

If people are going to start the campaigning for mayor and council seats – and school board positions – this early, perhaps we should also concentrate on convincing more voters to turn out in 2018.

– M.C.

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