I didn’t vote, and I’m not proud of it.

I have a confession: I didn’t vote in the recent municipal election here in Victoria. And I’m not proud of it.

As a progressive and politically aware student who’s actively involved in a lot of activism groups on campus and in my community, I fully intended to vote. I really did.

I’m someone who works every day towards promoting social equality, environmental sustainability, and collective well-being. I desperately want radical societal transformation. I preach it to my friends, I write about it in my course papers, I think about it while I’m trying to fall asleep at night… I want my voice to be heard.

I believe that my perspective matters. So, why didn’t I vote? Well, I could make up a lot of (mostly invalid) excuses:

  • I wasn’t well-educated on the candidates’ platforms, so I wasn’t sure exactly who I even wanted to vote for.
  • I was busy… when the Saturday election day rolled around, I spent most of it hiking in East Sooke, got home late, and didn’t feel like going out again.
  • I’ve only lived in Victoria for about a year, and spent most of it in the bubble of the UVic campus, so didn’t feel in-tune with local issues.
  • Not being from BC, I wasn’t already registered as a voter and it seemed like a tiresome process.
  • It was only a municipal election; it doesn’t affect much on a larger scale.
  • I don’t really support our current electoral system, and didn’t want to participate in it.
  • Let’s be real, what does one vote matter anyway?

Ultimately, what all of these are is just excuses. They’re ways that I tried to justify my own complacency and laziness. They’re ways that I tried to negate my sense of entitlement to the massive privilege of having the right to vote for who I want to represent my values within a democratic system, while so many people around the world could only dream of such an opportunity.

In reality, if I had rightly prioritized voting, I would’ve made the time for it. I would’ve actively researched the candidates’ platforms. I would’ve gone to the Elections BC website and just registered, because it’s definitely not that hard. I would’ve embraced the sense of empowerment from formally participating in my political system. But, I didn’t. And I’m not proud of it.

When one of my roommates came home the evening of the election day, and excitedly asked me if I’d voted, I replied with a calm and levelled, “No”. When she didn’t attempt to hide her evident shock and disapproval, then proceeded to question me about my decision, I immediately reverted to defensiveness. I fed her all of the above excuses. I tried to convince myself, as a much as I tried to convince her, that my decision was justifiable. But it wasn’t. I felt guilty, and embarrassed, and hypocritical to my beliefs. And I’m not proud of it.

Even though I may not fully support the current structure of our political system, I know that the positive change I want to see will never come from alienating myself from it… the change must come from within the system itself. Even though it can often feel as though my one single vote won’t make much of a difference, I need to remind myself that society is just made up of a bunch of individual people making decisions… my vote is at least as important as any.

So, while this post can in no way change the plain and simple fact that I didn’t vote, it’s my formal and public apology for my own apathy. It’s my acknowledgement that I made a mistake. It’s my promise that moving forward, I will never again take my privilege for granted, and I will enthusiastically embrace every opportunity to create the future that I want to be a part of. It’s my call out to all of you to please prioritize voting. Let go of every excuse you can think of, and make the choice to participate in the process of positive change, no matter how painstakingly slow and frustrating it may sometimes be.

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