5 Painless Things You Can Do Before The Election To Make Voting A Cinch

20 Sep 2013
By Zoey Duncan |
Sure, a municipal election is tough on the candidates. They spend endless hours walking neighbourhoods knocking on doors to introduce themselves to voters, but they also have to thoroughly learn the issues of each neighbourhood their desired ward encompasses.

But hey, us voters have it tough too. We’ve all heard “each vote counts”, so making the most of it can require a little bit of homework on our parts. With that in mind, here are five painless things you can do before Election Day to make voting a breeze.

1. Reframe your thinking: it’s more than politics, it’s about your community

Politics ain’t always pretty. It can be downright dirty sometimes, or—more often—pretty boring. But great things can happen thanks to the intersection of community and politics. Those long committee meetings at City Hall could be approving ways to make your community more liveable (maybe by making a one-way street into a more desireable two-way). Even better, once you dip that toe into the pond of local engagement, you’re at the wonderful risk of feeling more connected to your city, being more proud of your neighbourhood and simply better enjoying the place you call home.

2. Learn one thing about each candidate who is running in your ward.

This means more than just recognizing their names from lawn signs. First, do you know what ward you live in? See this City of Calgary list of neighbourhoods (http://www.calgary.ca/Aldermen/Pages/Ward-Offices/Ward-Communities.aspx), click yours and you’ll be taken to a page of information for the incumbent alderman for the neighbourhood, along with the ward number.

Next, find a list of who is running in your ward. A good old fashioned newspaper (or news website) works well here. Once you’ve found the list of candidates, start your research!

Find something you like or don’t about each candidate. Would they represent your views on libraries, food trucks or tax rates? Do they play the same sport, or have the same hobby as you? See if you connect with any candidates.

3. Understand what a school board does

The mayor and councillors get all the attention during these big election things. But the public and separate school board trustees are responsible for well over a billion dollars between them. They make decisions that affect the education of every kindergarten to Grade 12 student (in the public or separate school systems) in the city, from report card grading systems to approving that billion-dollar budget (funded with your tax dollars).

You needn’t have a child in school to take an interest in the trustee elections. Read up on candidates in your ward (each trustee represents two wards) and decide who you want representing you. Easy peasy.

4. Go to an election forum or debate

Election forums and debates pop up all over during election season. They’re a chance for candidates to answer neighbourhood questions or to take on each other in hopes of converting voters. Bonus: perks at forums past have included pie, curry, and other assorted edibles and libations.

These events are free to attend, and could be happening really close to your home. Check your local community centre to see if they’re running one. Double bonus! You’ll meet neighbours, learn that you’re not alone in your concern about that corner where everyone speeds and maybe even decide where your vote is going.

5. Harness the power of social media

Calgary is a digital hotbed of political opinions during elections. This is most evident on Twitter, but you’ll find plenty of activity on Facebook, too.

If you’re on Facebook, look up your local candidates and Like their pages (don’t worry if you don’t like the person yet, you’re just getting information here). Suddenly, you’re getting election updates to your newsfeed regularly.

If you’re on Twitter, keep an eye on a few local hashtags: #yyc (for all Calgary happenings), #yyccc (chat about city council), #yycbe (public school board coverage) and #yycvote (all things municipal election).