Why You Should Vote Strategically

Posted on April 25, 2011


This is scary. The NDP’s latest surge, while encouraging in BC and Quebec, is threatening to split the anti-Conservative vote in a few crucial swing ridings. We are in danger of giving Stephen Harper five years of unfettered ability to take our country in whichever direction he wants.

If Harper gets a majority, it won’t matter what the distribution of the remaining seats looks like. Stephen Harper will push through his regressive, socially conservative agenda to the detriment of the country, and neither the Liberals nor the NDP will be able to do anything about it. This should mean a lot for those who would ordinarily object to strategic voting. In these terrifying circumstances, a strategic vote effectively is a vote for your favourite opposition party. Even if you are an NDP supporter who absolutely detests the Liberals, if you live in West Nova, a vote for the Liberals will help to avert a Harper majority and therefore ensure that the NDP have a real say in how the country is run. The same goes for a Liberal supporter in Sault Saint Marie. If you live in a crucial swing riding, then a vote for the party most likely to defeat the Conservatives, no matter how distasteful, will serve to empower all the opposition parties, including your own.

Don’t let the NDP surge confuse you about which vote is the strategic one. The front-runners in the close races haven’t changed. If you are not sure how you should vote strategically, then there are some very handy resources to help you figure that out:

Catch 22 Harper Conservatives: These guys have focused their energies on the ridings where the Conservative incumbents can be most easily defeated, or where the Conservatives are dangerously close to winning a seat that is not currently theirs. If you live in one of these ridings, then I very strongly encourage you to vote for the candidate they endorse. This might involve supporting the lesser of two evils, but remember that this will empower the opposition in general, which presumably includes your favourite party.

Project Democracy: This website is very user friendly. Find your riding using an interactive map, a postal-code lookup, or a simple list. They will tell you how close the Conservatives are to winning, and if a strategic vote is needed, they will tell you what it should be. Once again, I recommended heeding their advice if you like things like social justice, the environment, and democracy.

Pair Vote Canada: If voting for the lesser of two evils really turns your stomach, then these guys might be able to help. Give them some information about your riding, your favourite party, and which other parties you could see yourself voting for, and they will find somebody in a riding where your party is the one best positioned to defeat the Conservatives. You can then get in touch with this person and agree to vote for each other’s party. That way, you still get to indirectly support your party while our vote is not wasted on a candidate who cannot win. You also get to influence the result in two ridings, rather than just one.

Swing 33: This is not so much strategic voting as strategic donation, but if you have the cash to spare then it’s also worth your while. By donating to local campaigns in swing ridings, rather than to a party’s national fund, you ensure that your money goes towards defeating Conservatives. I’ve already donated to Elizabeth May’s campaign.

A Conservative majority looms on the horizon, but we can stop it if we vote smart. That way, we can have an opposition that means something and maybe we can set about reforming the ridiculous antiquated system that makes it necessary for us to do this.