Tuesday, September 20, 2011

More Thoughts on Slates

I had a look at the 2008 municipal election results for New West.

From these numbers, you can tell that the Voice candidates together got about 38% of the popular support. Since New West has 6 councillors, in the ideal case of  totally proportional representation, Voice should therefore have got...2 seats. And whaddaya know? They got 2 seats.

I believe that the two current Voice councillors have cut their affilliation with that organization, and will be running once again as independents. If so, this is going to be hard for Voice, since last time 'round, their next most popular candidate would've needed 400 more votes to make it to Council. Incumbents have a huge advantage, what with "name recognition".

For comparison, have a look at the 2008 election results in Burnaby. Here there were 3 "slates" in the running.  BCA, the "Burnaby Citizens Association", garnered 51% of the popular vote and all the seats on council. The other slates got lots of votes, but it takes 30% to get a single seat on council in Burnaby, and they split the vote between them and so got shut out. Independent candidates (not affiliated with any slate) got a mere 8% of the popular support. In Burnaby, slates are so dominant that unless you are affiliated with one, there is absolutely no chance of being elected - you need 12,000 votes to get a council seat, and the highest-scoring independent there achieved a mere 2,500 votes.

It looks like people use the "slate" label to judge candidates, rather than looking at the individual candidate. This isn't surprising, really. Getting to know what the candidates are like means actually reading about them, watching them in action, and, if possible, talking to them. More than once. This takes a lot of time and effort, and who, in this day and age, has that kind of time?

When I vote, it's like a hockey pool: I want to chose my own team. A little "union" here, a little "business" there, some activism thrown in, and most importantly, a positive community vision. And this is still possible in New West. As the example of Burnaby shows, it appears to become impossible once slates become firmly established.

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