Hopefully, this doesn't come across as a partisan post, but a good idea is a good idea, and if we don't foster good ideas and acknowledge them when they're made then just what the heck are elections all about?
NDP candidate James Gordon is pushing for Guelph Tranist to be made free to take on Election Day in order to help lubricate the democratic process (as it were). Although it's not the whole problem, perhaps beginning to change our approach to how Election Day works will help get more people out to vote. Ideas like multiple days of voting, holding Election Day on the weekend, or making Election Day a stat holiday have all come up in conversation as ways to making getting out the vote easier. Would they work? Would making the bus free on Election Day to get people to the polls? I'm not sure, but it can't hurt to start somewhere like this...
Gordon is proposing that the City of Guelph offer free transit all day on Election Day, June 12, to make it easier for people to get to their polling stations are from wherever they find themselves during the course of the day - work, school, errands, et cetera. He'll be taking the idea to Operations, Transit and Emergency Services Committee meeting on Wednesday, and he's looking to build momentum with a website and petition.
Here's the press release from the Gordon campaign:
GUELPH - Guelph NDP Candidate James issued a call for community support in encouraging Guelph Transit to offer free bus for the June 12th provincial election. In the last election, barely half of eligible voters here cast a ballot. This is a simple step that can help Guelph raise its voting numbers and have more people participate.
Gordon said, “Each day, I am inspired to discover that people have an appetite to be heard, to use their vote to be part of the democratic process. At the same time, those who haven’t voted before talk about the challenges that they face in understanding the process and getting to a polling station.”
He has launched a website, helpguelphvote.ca, where residents can add their name in support of Gordon’s letter, or write a letter of their own for submission to the city.
“Encouraging participation in our democracy is vital to the health of our society, and removing barriers to voting is an important part of this work.”
Guelph Transit provides an invaluable service, enabling mobility for thousands of our residents, and providing an accessible transit option for many people with mobility issues. Free transit is offered at other times, to bring people downtown and cheer on the Storm for their playoff run, and to reduce car traffic on Clean Air Day.
For people working to make ends meet, arranging time to vote get to the polls can be difficult. Helping them save time, and spare the cost of a fare will ease this burden.
Gordon added “Making transit free on Election Day is a sensible, achievable step towards encouraging a fuller democracy and a more engaged city, where more voices are heard. We will all benefit”.
Gordon is hoping to speak to the City of Guelph Operations, Transit and Emergency Services Committee at their meeting on June 3rd, in the hopes of making a Free Transit Election Day possible for this and future elections.
A successful entrepreneur, business owner, and professional in the arts and culture sector, James Gordon has also spent his career as an activist and a champion of social justice.