Lessons from the “Trenches” in district 13 of the 2015 PEI Elections

Last Monday, I had the priviledge of taking part in the PEI Election at one of the poll stations. I was the poll clerk @ Poll #6 of District 13, (yes, that distict from the Hunger Games), the epicenter of one of PEI’s most heated battles between Rob Lantz leader of PC party and Jordan Brown, a well known lawyer and 1st time politician of the Liberal party.

As a poll clerk at the voting table, I had a front view seat of the mechanics of voting and seeing first hand the diversity of people who come out to vote. It was eye-opening to be at those front lines, here are some highlights:

  • 2 first time voters, who voted with their parents.
  • 1 well known immigrant businessperson who just obtained his citizenship and voted for the first time.
  • Comparing the demographics of a region VS their voting results
  • Understanding the importance of multiple factors in politics: a) leaders; b) Party allegiance, c) Ground team for parties; d) individual candidates; e) specific issues.
  • Vote counting: very distributed, and Rob Lantz had a slight lead over Jordan Brown in our poll
  • Seeing democracy at work, seeing the Big picture translate to how voters vote at the polls.
  • Over 90% voter turnout at our polling station!!

The results of district 13 were surprising to most and the results of the whole elections even more so. The 4 of the biggest stories being:

  1. The election of PEI’s first Green MLA
  2. The combined 20%+ of votes for Greens and NDP.
  3. Wade McLaughlin’s victory at the helm of a party that had “voter fatigue” and “scandals” associated to it
  4. Rob Lantz’s defeat as the PC leader.

My key take away is that democracy can and does work. I believe many people judge politics from small anecdotal experience. Although, I myself do not have a complete picture. I was believe this experience at the “front lines” gave me a broader perspective which leads to believe that PEI’s democracy is alive and well. Just as people were starting to lose faith, democracy comes back with surprising results!

Most people said Peter Bevan Baker’s victory was an impossibility, given his riding and party. He won with the greatest majority! Now will this change everything? No, but it demonstrates that anything can happen. On the other side of the spectrum, the victory of the Liberals is likely the result of a well organized ground team is all districts and probably polls, all behind a very well trusted leader. The Liberals earned this victory, and I believe it is to their credit. As for the PCs, they showed a rebound and energy going in following their leadership process, but alas for their leader, the electorate had other plans.

Democracy is certainly not a perfect system, and it can certainly be improved.  We are constantly evolving. I’m also hopeful that innovation and better practices will allow us to attain a higher quality democracy in a democracy which is already vibrant. Especially here on the island.  I do believe that we mustn’t lose our ideals, and we I encourage all of us to keep asking from our governments what we want, and to not give in to apathy or dissilusionment.

For now, all there’s left to do is congratulate Mr. McLaughlin on his victory and all the parties for making this democratic exercise memorable and successful. I look forward to seeing a better, brighter PEI for all Islanders in the years to come.

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