Bob Jonkman's thoughts on politics

Strategic voting, redux

Posted by Bob Jonkman on 2nd May 2011

The earlier conversation on Strategic Voting continues:

Kevin Dallaire:

Until such time as there is proportional representation, we have to work within the system we have. Taking a stand and saying that you OPPOSE a particular party or platform is just as valid as saying what you want. With our current system, strategic voting is absolutely valid. So until Utopia has come, I will vote for the candidate that stands the best chance of taking out a dogmatic right wing party.


Jennifer Ross:

But if that were true, we wouldn’t need electoral reform. The very fact that our electoral system doesn’t give us the result we vote for is why you have to “make a farce of it.”

If a thing is broken, its no good to just pretend it works.


Bob Jonkman:

Strategic voting doesn’t fix our broken electoral system. Why would voting for a candidate you don’t want give you the government you do want?

If our electoral system doesn’t give us the result we vote for, then strategic voting won’t give you the result you vote for either.

We do need electoral reform; specifically, we need a different voting system that gives proportional representation. Strategic voting, tactical negative voting or voting insincerely does not give proportional representation.


Anita Nickerson:

There is a real struggle about strategic voting in this community, between people passionate on both sides, and within individuals who want to “do the right thing” but find that neither choice is great. I would argue that the latter group is much bigger, but the former much louder. We are closer to an awareness of the need for reform among the general public in these super close ridings than we ever have been before.

If all of those who are so focused on whether people vote strategically today, could, instead of just going back to their daily lives tomorrow and forgetting about it for another four years, now come together to fix this broken boat we are all stuck in, that would be amazing.


Kevin Dallaire:

Hey no problems with working towards PR. But unfortunately, the only way to change the system is to change the elections act and that means working within the system. So pressure needs to be brought on the politicians themselves. How? We can hold all the small townhalls we want, and educate as much as we want, but I would argue that those efforts aren’t going to amount to much.

If Jack Layton was to manage to be PM because the Cons lost the confidence of the House, then I say, hold him to his word (as per the English Debate) and demand PR. Do fundraising and advertising…. especially on YouTube…..


Anita Nickerson:

Hey, Kevin. I do the “small townhalls” because:

1) I don’t know any influential politicians and they wouldn’t listen to me anyways, so I’m left with ordinary, interested folks

2) Every time I do one I get new people out who either haven’t thought much about PR, or support PR as a good principle but also believe some of the misconceptions out there. They both come away with a better understanding/stronger support, and

3) It keeps enthusiasm alive for PR among those who already understand it and want it. When the media tells people often enough for years “electoral reform is dead”, they start to believe it. This is my little way of countering that. When we have another real opportunity (which may be coming), due to the work in this little group, more people will know there is an organization called Fair Vote Canada and a local Fair Vote group.

Yes, let’s hold Layton accountable and demand PR! Let’s hope he shows leadership and courage, instead of being the next in the line of politicians who have promised it until they win with First Past the Post. We’re closer than ever – the opportunity to mobilize, speak up, advertise and educate may be just around the corner!


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Why Strategic Voting Is Wrong

Posted by Bob Jonkman on 2nd May 2011

Strategic voting is not at all strategic. It is insincere voting. It is tactical negative voting. It is wrong.

I just read Laurel L. Russwurm’s blog post listing some of the things wrong with strategic voting. It comes hot on the heels of a discussion I had on the CAPP mailing list:

If I want, for example, a Green government I’ll never get it by voting for the Liberals, no matter how much I dislike the Conservatives.


And now that the NDP is presenting a formidable opposition, perhaps a vote for the Liberals tomorrow is as much wasted as a vote for the NDP was last week.


Have a read through the Politics Cafe article The Perils Of Strategic Voting. An excerpt:

According to political scientist Bruce Hicks, about three percent of Canadians vote strategically, with that number rising as high to as 12 percent in elections when voters are united in opposing a specific party.

Only 12%? And that 12% strategic vote is divided between Conservatives voting NDP to keep the Liberals out, NDPs voting Liberals to keep the Conservatives out, and Liberals voting Conservative just to give them a majority and put an end to these unnecessary elections[*].


Strategic voting isn’t very strategic at all. It is a vote for a government you don’t want.




[*] I’m putting those words into their mouths. This is one of the most necessary elections we’ve needed in the last 20 years.

And Sam Nabi answered:

Well put, Bob. Strategic voting is more than just voting for a government you don’t want – it makes a farce of democracy. Elections aren’t about choosing the lesser evil – they’re about making a claim about what kind of country you want to live in.


Tomorrow, we should all vote with our hearts, for the candidate we want to represent us (even if that means voting for no candidate at all). We should not vote as a knee-jerk reaction to what pollsters say.


– Sam

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All Candidates Meetings in Kitchener-Conestoga

Posted by Bob Jonkman on 27th April 2011

I’ve attended both of the All Candidates Meetings in my riding, Kitchener-Conestoga.

The first in St. Agatha was run by the Rogers local cable broadcast and local paper The Record. After some introductory remarks from the candidates, questions were taken from the audience, and about 15 people lined up. Sadly, answers were limited to short sound bites, so I don’t think anyone got an answer with any substance. Some of the questions were longer than the answers. After about 45 minutes the Q&A session was stopped, and the candidates made some closing remarks. Only 8 people present got to ask questions, along with one question from an online viewer. I was not one of them. There were no questions on proportional representation or electoral reform, but I was pleased to hear several questions on the environment.

The second ACM in Elmira was run by radio station AM570 and the KW Chamber of Commerce. This time the questions were all asked by the host from the radio station, and the candidates were again limited to 60 second sound bites. The questions mostly dealt with economic issues, national debt, infrastructure development, and one question on national health care. There were no questions on proportional representation or electoral reform. With a few minutes remaining at the end of the allotted 90 minutes the host asked for questions from the audience. Sadly, I was not close enough to get picked. As it turned out, the question was from a Conservative supporter asking the Liberal candidate about the ethics of the recent attack ad against Stephen Harper, which turned into a vindictive sniping match from all parties.

Neither ACM seemed to be held for the purposes of informing candidates about voters’ concerns, or informing voters about candidate’s views on issues. Instead, they were both “media events”, tightly scripted and controlled for the purpose of filling some air time and column inches. I also attended another AM570 ACM for Kitchener-Centre – oddly, the questions were the same as in Elmira, and the answers were much the same as well.

I learned nothing from either ACM that I couldn’t have learned by reading the party’s platform statements or campaign literature. Except maybe that the whole election process is dominated by media and business.

I’ve heard a rumour of a third ACM for Kitcherner-Conestoga, to be held in New Hamburg (a third location inaccessible to public transit). In spite of my experiences at the first two ACMs, I’ll be attending this one too.

Why are there so few All Candidate Meetings in my riding? Kitchener-Waterloo and Kitchener-Centre seem to have an ACM event every day of the week, and sometimes more than one. Anita had the great idea of Fair Vote Waterloo hosting an ACM with the sole topic being electoral reform. I hope we can do that for the October 2011 elections!

Oh, and don’t forget about the joint FairVoteWRC and CAPP event on Thursday, 28 April, 7:00pm in the Adult Community Centre at 185 King St. S., Waterloo. John Deverell and Nick van der Graaf will be speaking!


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