This guest blog is written by WAVE member Elyssa Teslyk.
In 2013, Edmonton voter turnout was only 34.5%. Which prompted me to start digging into community work that would allow me to answer “why?”
“…because you ain’t famous, wealthy, or powerful…” written by Diversity Magazine, touches on several intersectional issues that “shape the narrative about you, impact how you are perceived, the impression others have of you, [which can] even stretch to affecting chances of you getting opportunities.” This is relevant to our election because a disconnect between the diverse needs of Edmontonians on a person-to-person level, and how the government tries to satisfy those needs on a city-wide level, can lead to feelings of apathy among community members.
These feelings of disconnection - “I can’t make a difference.” “I don’t come from money or power” “I can hardly pay my bills” “I tried xyz already” “they don’t listen or care”- have been keeping many of us away from effective civic engagement and the voting booths on Election Day, and also preventing us from influencing change with actions that have the ability to create collective impact.
It’s my view that your voice does matter, regardless of your background - each of us have unique perspectives and knowledge to offer on decisions that impact us all. Election time is the perfect opportunity to uplift morale, appreciate the contributions made by our community, and motivate everyone to keep doing the good work. All the while using your voice to stand up for what you believe in, to make your needs clear, And to make sure your values to be counted. For me, I believe it’s my responsibility to vote so I can do my part to influence the probability of making sure good people are in place to make good decisions on our behalf.
So, if you're new to civic engagement, you can start participating in the City with one small action - voting.
Voting day is Monday October 16, 2017 from 9AM to 8PM. We can’t fix Edmonton’s problems without you, so start by simply getting informed and adding your two cents to the ballot! If you want to learn more about who’s running for council before you vote, find out more information here. Look out for the Where to Vote cards that will be delivered to all Edmonton homes in early October 2017. These cards contain specific, important voting information, such as:
1. Your advance vote and election day voting station
2. Voting station address and hours
3. Accessibility information about these locations
4. Voter eligibility
5. Authorized identification required to vote
6. Where to find information on candidates
7. How to find more information online
You can also contact Edmonton Elections Office at 780-496-8008 or email@example.com with specific inquiries if needed. Edmonton’s Elections office provides full wheelchair accessibility at voting stations, senior accommodation facilities, voting opportunities for hospitals and institutions, advanced voting, and mail-in voting.
These folks are running for council whether you vote or not. Without active participation in municipal voting and consistent civic engagement – we’re stuck at a roadblock where our leaders’ decision-making ability is only as good as the information and support coming in. That’s why your voice and experiences matter.