We're kicking off a year-long project today with one simple objective. We want more Manitobans to vote in the Oct. 4, 2011 provincial election.
It's a simple goal but not a simple task. As Ottawa correspondent Mia Rabson writes in today's FYI section, voter turnout is declining across the developed world.
In 2008 for the first time in Canadian history, the federal electoral turnout dropped below 60 per cent.
And here in Manitoba -- where our women were the first in Canada to win the right to vote 94 years ago -- we now have one of the lowest voter turnouts of the nation.
Why? We're going to find out. And we hope to make it change.
We call it the Democracy Project.
Over the next 12 months, we will examine issues and ideologies beyond the politicians and their campaigns. We want to know what you care about and how to make your ballot count.
The civic election is only weeks away, for example. Do you know who your candidates are? Do you know who is running for school board in your area? Have you decided yet who best represents your vision of your neighbourhood, your city?
We hope to talk to many of you over the next year -- from our youngest citizens, who are voting in increasingly smaller numbers than their parents and grandparents; to our newest citizens, who often feel disengaged from the process in their adopted homeland; to our aboriginal community, of which so many are both young and disengaged.
You can follow the Democracy Project in the paper and online.
Manitoba women fought hard for women's suffrage at the turn of the 20th century. Today, thousands of us don't even bother to cast a ballot. We hope to remind ourselves why that fundamental right was so important then, and now.
"People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote -- a very different thing."
-- Walter H. Judd