The upcoming Victoria municipal election is oversaturated given the number of mayoral and council candidates, in a city where less than half of the residents show up to cast a vote.
In 2014, when just 39 per cent of eligible voters cast their ballots, Mayor Lisa Helps was elected from a pool of eight candidates. She wound up beating two-term incumbent Dean Fortin by just 89 votes, leaving one to wonder whether the spread might have been greater with less candidates or a higher turnout of voters.
Those elements are largely the same this time around, with eight mayoral candidates in the mix and 17 vying for councillor seats.
A recent addition to the mayor’s race is RyMo – who ran for council last time as Ryan Moen. He’s running under a pseudonym to draw more attention to the election and get more people to vote. While his intentions are admirable, another name on the list could further spread votes away from candidates who are fully prepared and committed to serve if elected.
Consider this: In Victoria in 2014, someone identified as Changes the Clown ran for mayor and collected 253 votes. Not only was that a higher tally than three other candidates, it was 164 more than Helps’ razor-thin win margin.
Gary Beyer, considered by some a strong contender for mayor, acknowledged the possibility of a watered down vote and recently bowed out of the race.
It brings to question whether active demonstrations, such as going for the City’s top job to bring more attention to the election, really works to get people voting or is it a hindrance to promoting a strong democracy?
Come Oct. 20, voters will be tasked with choosing from many options. While some will cast their votes based on personal knowledge of the candidates, human nature will see others go on name recognition when scanning through a long list.
And for those looking to cast a protest vote? That option will be there as well.