There is a proposal before Whitehorse council to combine the upcoming voters’ enumeration with some census style interrogation – that is, an additional set of questions asking for specifics on the makeup of each household, beyond the residents’ eligibility to vote.
This inappropriate proposal has the appearance of an administration attempting to insert its own agenda between voters and their registration. The ill-conceived plan is so inherently flawed I wonder if it would even be legal.
It should be easy to register to vote. Any voter drive emphasizes the simplicity of getting on a voters’ list. Introducing into the process this new so-called “census” element that has a separate purpose altogether puts that simplicity at risk.
Many people have concerns about providing information for any census, so that the additional questions could provide a barrier to voter registration. Barriers to voters are the last thing this city needs.
Yet we’re also ingrained, through the federal government’s occassional census taking, to believe that answering that census is mandatory. Perhaps the city could benefit unfairly by an inference that their census requires a similar obligation, imposing an unwelcome tension on the act of registering to vote.
Administration is saying it would be “totally internal information, only for private purposes.” What are the purposes again (and is it really suitable to call them “private”)? Land-use planning, citizen surveys
– they’re all over the place explaining this idea.
It seems administration is after a civic census, along the lines of what Calgary does every year (and why shouldn’t this little city do what Calgary does?).
So council should, by all means, invite administration to state their case – after they make it clear that city departments can’t hitch a ride on the voter enumeration exercise to collect their own data.
This particular administration and council have their hands full simply undertaking the voters’ enumeration, since they’ve made it clear they can’t understand why we laypersons get to vote anyway, and so frequently, too.
Their confusion is showing with this muddled proposal.
I confess I’m dismayed that these same people are responsible for election procedures this year. But as someone said to me last spring, we’re really not that far from living in a banana republic!
Let’s insist to council that they stick to the job at hand – enumerating voters.
Doing it right might lead to an increase in voter participation, which is where their discussion should have been focused in the first place.