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EDITORIAL: Civic duty involves doing the legwork

"An election demands we also take action, to question leadership hopefuls, examine the roadmaps set out by each party or candidate, and dig through the details."

Elections Canada said this week early estimates show more than 1.3 million voters cast their ballots on the first day of advance polls on Friday, which is more than what was recorded during the 2019 election.

It's an encouraging number, given that Albertans especially are being inundated with votes this fall. First we must mark a federal ballot Sept. 20, which also happens to be the closing date for candidate declarations in the municipal elections for councils and school boards, with this vote set for Oct. 18.

On top of that, we're facing a Senate vote on the same day — Oct. 18 — along with a referendum vote on equalization payments and daylight savings time.

All of it is hitting us as families face back-to-school stresses, and COVID cases shoot upward, marking the fourth wave of a lengthy pandemic. This means voters must show up amid tightened public-health measures, mask, sanitize, and pick up those single-use pencils at polling stations.

The general concern among analysts is that, by calling a 36-day election campaign — the shortest possible by law — federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau has negatively affected a process that would have benefited during a pandemic from the extra two weeks — 50 days is the lengthiest campaign allowed — with extra time to prepare.

The flood of candidate declarations, party platforms, debates, analysis, projections, and campaigning directed at voters in such a short period of time while many are also keeping tabs on COVID numbers is sure to overwhelm.

The fear is that this will also inspire a retreat.

It is still our civic duty as taxpayers to show up at election time — or times, as it is this fall. 

Part of that responsibility also involves researching party platforms and educating ourselves so each of us can make an informed decision on who we'd like to see step up to lead our communities, and our country.

Too often, leaders win elections based on charisma, not the plans they have for our collective future. And voters regularly feel as though we're forced to choose the least of the evils — honest politician has long been considered an oxymoron — and cross our fingers things will work out.

But an election demands we also take action, to question leadership hopefuls, examine the roadmaps set out by each party or candidate, and dig through the details. 

It's important for voters to avoid being lulled toward a party based on empty promises — lies or less-than-truths often dominate debates — and to make sure there is fiscal strength behind those lofty plans. Eventually the bill comes due, and those who get into power must make sure the cash will be there to buck up.

Don't be swayed by strategy. Some candidates will try to win on popularity, name recognition, the number of signs, the frequency of radio ads, the vitriol against rivals. It's up to electors to shut out all the noise and keep our sights trained on what matters most to each of us, and how that can or may come to pass.

Let's not forget, the only vote that doesn't count is the one that has never been cast.

Editorials are the consensus view of the St. Albert Gazette’s editorial board.