The Chatham Voice, in partnership with the United Way of Chatham Kent and Sticker That, is launching a grassroots non-partisan campaign to increase voter turnout in this year’s municipal election.
50% per cent plus one is a campaign aimed at getting more than half of Chatham-Kent’s nearly 78,000 voters to the polls Oct. 27.
In 2010, voter turnout was a dismal 39%.
“You’re going to see the 50% plus one signs across the municipality,” said Voice general manager Jim Blake. “We want to see them in public places, in business and displayed by anyone who wants to support democracy.”
The Voice staff members will also be taking photos of people with the signs and posting them to chathamvoice.com.
“We want to build momentum and if people see their friends and neighbours with the signs, it may spur them to vote as well,” Blake said.
He said the newspaper considers building a stronger community an important part of its mandate.
“We need to give the incoming mayor and council as much input as possible,” he said. “It helps them do their jobs and gives them direction.”
Managing editor Bruce Corcoran said low voter turnout is unacceptable.
“Voting is a huge part of democracy. Think of how many other countries on the planet where the people have no say in how they’re governed,” he said. “More than sixty per cent of eligible voters chose not to cast their ballot in 2010. Apathy will get us nowhere.”
Corcoran urges citizens to get involved and get informed.
Karen Kirkwood-Whyte, chief executive officer of the United Way of Chatham-Kent, said the effort fits perfectly with the group’s mission statement “to improve lives and build community in Chatham-Kent.
“One of our stated goals is to engage and mobilize community,” she said. “Municipal government touches all our lives, and through voting we have an opportunity to influence the kind of place we want to live.”
Ed Van Dolder of Sticker That said, “It’s important for the community to vote. I’m glad to be able to help.”
Anyone who wants a sign can contact The Chatham Voice at 519-397-2020.