Did you know who you were voting for Tuesday? Did you know the issues? Because if you didn’t, Kevin O’Brien says you shouldn’t have voted.
“People who don’t know what’s going on, voting for people they don’t know, is not appropriate,” he told Mount Pearl Mayor Randy Simms for the spring issue of Municipal News.
That’s right, the minister of Municipal Affairs believes a lower turnout would be preferable to uninformed voters.
His comments were contained in an article about e-voting, an online approach to elections that is gaining in popularity. It’s believed e-voting has the potential to increase voter turnout, particularly among the younger generation. Other mayors Simms interviewed for the piece were all for it.
It’s not clear where O’Brien stands on mail-in ballots, but that’s primarily what sent Dennis O’Keefe back to the mayor’s chair in St. John’s Tuesday with more than 6,000 votes over his nearest rival, former councillor Sheilagh O’Leary. Geoff Chaulk, a mental health advocate, garnered fewer than 600 votes.
City businessman Ron Ellsworth won the deputy mayor post handily over his lone contender, Jennifer McCreath, who still garnered more than 5,000 votes.
Sadly, the capital city election was a complete shutout for all five women in the running.
O’Keefe’s win was predictable — he doesn’t rock the boat, and has made an art form of charming the citizenry on his regular walkabouts. But it’s still a tough loss for O’Leary, who effectively took up the heritage torch from former mayor and outgoing deputy mayor Shannie Duff.
Less predictable than the results themselves was the tectonic pace of reporting. Few provincial results were trickling in before 9 p.m. And in St. John’s, officials refused to roll out a single poll until every last vote was in and counted. It was almost 10:30 before results were posted.
That caused a lot of testy exchanges on social media. Some choice tweets: “White smoke at city hall yet, or what?” and “So are the ballets being delivered by Metrobus?”
A couple of other noteworthy results from around the province: Ken McDonald dethroned the French dynasty in Conception Bay South, taking the mayor’s seat away from Woodrow French; and Charles Pender took back the top post in Corner Brook.
Meanwhile, the municipal affairs minister’s comments from June don’t come across as very democratic.
Perhaps he simply doesn’t trust modern technology. He certainly has a colourful way of describing it, as when he remarked he’s not a “Google box” or “Twitter box” sort of person.
But the question then should be, would e-voting provide a fair and accurate result?
O’Brien, for some reason, seems more concerned about who, not how.