Name recognition could be factor come Election Day

By Ashley Wiebe
October 13, 2017 - 4:40pm Updated: October 13, 2017 - 7:08pm


MEDICINE HAT, AB — Election day is right around the corner and the candidates have all given their two cents on the issues that mean the most.

“The whole thing about transit has sort of kicked in, a little bit,” said Jim Groom, a political science instructor at Medicine Hat College. “Economic advancement in the community, or the lack thereof, has of course been an issue.”

Advanced polls opened last weekend, proving to be a convenient option for voters who had already made up their minds.

“We’ve had between 240-270 [people] through everyday, so we’re a little bit lower than this time at the last election in 2013,” said Angela Cruickshank, city clerk and returning officer for the city.

Groom said those numbers might say something come Monday.

“If it’s low numbers, people are saying, ‘well, it’s the status quo and people are happy’ and so the incumbent has more opportunities at getting in and staying in,” he said, but adding that’s not always the case.

There are 19 people fighting for the eight seats on council. That many names gives voters options, but it could also leave them filling in the bubble of someone they don’t know, just so someone else doesn’t get in.

“The ‘anybody-but’ type of vote is really a negative aspect to it and you might end up with picking somebody just for the sake of not picking the incumbent,” Groom said.

Among the numerous names, there are a few that stand out, having been on council in the past.

“If you’re happy with how things are going, and you recognize this person as a previous councillor or a previous mayor, and you’re pretty happy with how things have evolved, then you tend to recognize that name and you obviously vote in that way,” Groom said.

Cruickshank and Groom say voter turnout is normally only around 40 per cent in a civic election.

“We don’t buy into the municipal election,” Groom added. “It’s not as sexy, or there’s not a cache to it or something of that nature, so we tend to put it on the back burner and say ‘well, they won’t miss me if I don’t vote this time’.”

“Decisions that municipal council will make affects your life everyday,” Cruickshank said. “That’s why it’s important to vote, it’s a right and it’s a privilege.”

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