Voter Apathy in Windsor

Chuck Scarpelli, manager of records and elections for the city, stands outside the clerk's office in City Hall.

by Dan Gray

The Lance – News Intern

The City of Windsor has suffered from voter apathy in the past two municipal elections, but officials say the city is not doing a bad job getting voters out.

The City of Windsor had a voter turnout of 46 per cent in 2010. However in 2006, turnout reached only 38 per cent. In comparison with other cities the size of Windsor, those numbers are slightly higher.

Matt Ford is running for the city council seat in Ward 1. During his door to door campaigning, Ford encouraged the constituents in his ward to get out and vote.

According to Ford the city could do more to encourage voters to go to the polls on Election Day.

“I think there should be a database for e-mailing people about voting that you can sign up for,” said Ford. “Each candidate can get one email per election cycle at the beginning and at the end to send out their e-literature.”

Ford also believes the city should limit the amount of time election signs can be posted and suggests the city should hold debates in each ward to inform voters.

Drew Dilkens, mayoral candidate, said the low voting trend makes campaigning difficult.

“When you spend time knocking on thousands and thousands of doors and you know that you are going to be lucky for 50 per cent of those people to vote, it’s somewhat disheartening as a candidate,” said Dilkens. “You spend a lot of time talking to people who may be interested in talking, but don’t exercise their right to vote, so I’m concerned about it as a candidate.”

Municipal elections are governed by the Municipal Elections Act and the clerk’s office is in charge of informing voters.

Chuck Scarpelli, manager of records and elections for the City of Windsor, said the city’s clerks have a long list of responsibilities come election time.

“The mandate of the clerk is to make sure the voters know the voter times [and know] how they can vote by proxy, to make all voting stations accessible to the public as per the act, and to make sure that, if you are going to be sending out information flyers, that [they go] out to every household,” said Scarpelli.  “The clerk has to remember that everybody has to be treated equitably and fairly.”

Scarpelli directs eligible voters towards the city’s website for elections, www.windsorelections.ca, as a valuable way to get information online.  He said the city put out a brochure that answers many of the questions that people may have as another way to inform the electorate.

According to the City of Windsor website, voters can get a free ride on Windsor Transit to travel to one’s voting station on October 27. If you have any concerns about the voting list or any other questions you are encouraged to call 311.

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