Here’s an interesting website: Project Democracy.
You can look up your riding and it will show you the election results for the past several elections. It will predict the results for this coming election and let you know how close your riding is expected to be.
The website is aimed at preventing a Conservative majority by alerting people in swing ridings to the possibility of vote splitting. If the Liberal/NDP/Green vote total is higher than the Conservative vote total, then left-leaning voters have a chance to prevent a Conservative win by consolidating their votes behind the strongest left candidate (usually the Liberal candidate).
In many cases, the race is so far gone that there’s little that can change the results, so the site recommends just voting with your conscience (see: my ultra-conservative-until-death riding). In other cases, it’s amazing how close the races are. For example, in West Vancouver, the current Conservative incumbent won by only 400 votes; his Liberal opponent, who has held the seat in the past, last won by only 328 votes. So clearly, the more than 16 000 people who voted NDP or Green could make a huge difference here; if just a handful of those voters supported the Liberals instead, we could avoid a Conservative seat.
It’s a fascinating site, but I’m not sure it’s a good thing. I worry that people in forgone-conclusion ridings will not bother to vote. It can certainly be discouraging to see the numbers when they aren’t going your way.
But how can we ever make a difference if we don’t vote? I think my own riding, despite its firm historical base in ConservativeLand, is changing. The urban centres here are growing exponentially; floods of new people are coming into the area all the time. The face of our riding is changing and I believe that someday, my voice will be heard.
I believe that this riding contains many young families who care about access to affordable, reliable day care. I believe this riding contains many new Canadians who care about increased access to family immigration visas. I believe there are thousands of productive, working women in this riding who do not appreciate being told that their only value to society is as housewives.
I believe that this riding contains many parents who love the easy access to the green belt we have here, and who wish to protect the beauty this land has to offer for their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I believe that this riding is full of smart, caring people who want Canada to resume its international role of peacekeeper, rather than wannabe bully. I believe that that this riding has many fair-minded people who see the need to reform the Senate, so it is no longer being used as a back-door Prime Minister’s Veto; and who want funding for political parties to continue so all voices can be heard, not just those of the rich who can afford to keep their party afloat.
I believe that if all these people would just SHOW UP on voting day, we would make a difference. Maybe not in this election, but someday, and someday soon.
So for that reason, I worry about the impact of a site like this. I would hate to see even one voter decide that there is no point to participating in democracy because their opinions just don’t matter.
On the other hand, if this site prevents even one Conservative seat, that could stop a Conservative majority, which scares the crap out of me. I’ll be keeping my eye on you, West Vancouver – don’t let me down.
In the Ottawa area, the only potential swing seat is Orleans. It’s a long shot, but if everyone on the left rallied around one candidate it’s possible that the Conservative incumbent could be defeated. It’s exciting to think that you could make a difference, isn’t it? That your vote could change the political make up of Canadian Parliament?
Do something. Vote. Make change happen.