“Strategic” voting is a bad idea. Organized “strategic” voting improves nothing. Worse, “strategic” voting creates an illusion of trust where there are no possible checks and balances. It’s a scheme just asking to be gamed. Participants in “strategic” voting schemes will get taken advantage of and lose their voices.
The aberration of “strategic” voting results from a poorly structured democratic system. We still have a flawed, first-past-the-post system in Canada but that flaw does not justify “strategic” voting’s inadequacy as a democratic strategy.
Here’s why. “Strategic” voting encourages you to vote based on a sentiment of dislike for the current people in power rather than to vote positively in favour of what you truly think will be better representation, leadership, and direction for our country.
“Strategic” voting is harmful to democracy because it masks the meaning of your vote, which gives the ruling party an opportunity to pervert the system. In fact, “strategic” voting itself is a perversion of the system.
Just imagine the meaning of it. Casting a “strategic” vote means all you’re saying is that you’re against. Whereas Conservative supporters (in our current political case, Conservatives are the party in power) would be casting their ballots positively in favour of what they think is the way the country ought to go. Who has a clearer voice with a definitive vision? In the “strategic” voting case, it would be the Conservatives. The people organizing “strategic” votes are actually strengthening the voice of the people they wish to throw out of office.
The “strategic” voter’s voice essentially makes the weak statement “I’m not voting in favour of the Conservative Party and what it stands for.” Nobody knows what “strategic” voters want, just that there’s something ambiguous, which they don’t want. Conservatives can then frame essentially all debate and get support from people that are positively fueling Conservative perspectives.
On the other hand, if people vote in favour of something (that is, not “strategically” against something) then they make a statement. Saying instead “I am in favour of the NDP (or the Liberals or Greens if that’s your leaning) and what that party stands for.” That positive voice creates opportunity to frame discussion for what people truly do want. That’s how we build a better direction.
The problem with “Strategic” voting is amplified when public organisms try to structure a large-scale “strategic” vote swapping scheme or vote pledge scheme (e.g. Leadnow’s current campaign). There’s really no way to ensure that the people who sign up to swap votes or cast their votes in a particular way actually follow-through with their promises. Nor is there a way to verify that “strategic” voters have expressed honest intentions in the first place. Casting a ballot out of blind faith is totally inappropriate for a healthy democracy.
It’s a shame that Leadnow presents its campaign with so much pro-democracy rhetoric, when they’re bringing about the opposite (I suspect their intentions are well-meaning, if misguided).
“Strategic” voting is not strategic, it is at heart a cynical scheme. Lets improve our democratic system by casting a positive ballot for what we believe in and agree with, not one that hides our voices.