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EDITORIAL: Head to the polls

A voter casts a ballot.
A voter casts a ballot. - 123RF Stock Photo

Today is the day to put down the TV remote, get off the couch and do your democratic duty.

Yes, it’s election day on P.E.I.

Every vote matters. This year it matters like never before.

The reason is our votes could change history.

We could become the first province to change its electoral system from the standard and familiar first-past-the-post system to a mixed member proportional system.

Despite campaigning on both sides of the referendum question, it’s anyone’s guess what the outcome will be.

And, even though P.E.I. has one of the strongest economies in Canada, the province is far from perfect.

If anything, issues such as affordable housing, the environment and physician and mental health professional shortages should motivate Islanders to the polls.

You’ve been listening to candidates on these and other issues for a month of campaigning. Now, it’s time to vote for the party that best reflects your views.

This leads to another way history could be made on Tuesday.

We could also be the first province to have the Green party form government.

Times have certainly changed since the 2015 election. Entering the last week of campaigning, the Liberals led the way in a Guardian commissioned poll with 44-per-cent support followed by the Progressive Conservatives with 35 per cent.

The Green party trailed with six per cent, and Leader Peter Bevan-Baker was trying to get elected for the first time.

Fast forward to today.

The two-horse race of 2015 has turned into a three-horse race with the Greens having the edge, which leads to a third possible way P.E.I. voters could make history today.

We could elect our first minority government since the 1800s. In this sense, votes for all four parties will make a difference.

P.E.I. also has a tradition of strong voter turnout compared to other Canadian jurisdictions. As Elections P.E.I. points out, we are the “envy of Canada” with voter turnout generally above 80 per cent. In fact, only twice since 1966 has voter turnout been less than 80 per cent. The highest turnout was in 1970 with 87 per cent.

That trend of strong voting behaviour is continuing. So far, more than one-third (36 per cent) of Islanders have voted in advanced polls – an increase compared to 2015. That translates to 37,865 voters.

So, once again, voter apathy doesn’t appear to be a serious concern.

But anything less than full participation is never acceptable.

our busy day-to-day lives, it’s easy to forget how lucky Canadians are to have the right to vote in fair, free and peaceful elections. Not everyone in the world is so lucky.

Holding governments accountable and voting for change through democratic elections is your job.

Take it seriously and get out and vote.

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