Election fittingly follows Remembrance Day
General election day is just a few days away. That means it’s time to remind Merrittonians of their important right to vote.
I’ve said it before, and it’s time to say it again: Vote because it’s your right as a citizen to do so and participate in the process of determining who will lead and represent you in our local government.
It’s quite fitting that this civic election follows so closely on the heels of Remembrance Day. On Nov. 11 each year we take a few moments to solemnly commemorate those soldiers who fought and died to protect the freedoms that we hold dear — including our right to vote.
On Nov. 19 we can demonstrate our gratitude by participating in the democratic process.
As I shared during the federal election, this topic carries a lot of weight with me because I have witnessed people struggling to secure their right to vote. I have also witnessed their enthusiasm to vote when the right was finally granted.
When I was growing up in South Africa, black people were not allowed to vote because of apartheid, a political policy of racial segregation. In April 1994, free general elections were held for the first time. I was only nine, but I can still remember how the line of people who had turned up to vote for the first time stretched for blocks on election day.
Though at such a young age I didn’t fully understand the significance of that day, the image has stuck with me and I feel compelled to share it. Those people had fought so hard and waited so long for the chance to have a say in government that they wouldn’t have missed it for anything.
And yet, here in Merritt only 38 per cent of the voters turned out to vote in the 2008 municipal election. Where were the others? Perhaps, some didn’t feel informed enough to make a decision, some likely forgot and others probably just didn’t care.
It could be that some people who chose not to vote, still wore a poppy on Remembrance Day or even attended the ceremony. If so, then the significance of that event was lost on them.
We remember the soldiers officially on Remembrance Day, but that doesn’t mean we can forget their cause throughout the rest of the year, particularly at a time when we can exercise the freedoms they fought to protect.
And if you don’t really care about the historical significance, at least vote because the outcome is going to affect you especially at this local level.
The polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Civic Centre this Saturday, so make a point of dropping by to cast your vote. You’ll be glad you did.
If you haven’t quite made up your mind about who to elect, visit www.merrittherald.com to check out the candidates’ profiles.