Thursday, March 18, 2010

New Way to Reach non-voters? The BIG LISTEN


Alberta Party Update
The Big Listen

March 2010


The Big Listen, a campaign of the Alberta Party, is underway in Alberta. If you want to be part of a new way of building community through the political process, we invite you to work with us.

In the last provincial election nearly 60% of eligible voters in Alberta did not vote.

The Alberta Party is interested in 100% of eligible voters. This is why we have launched The Big Listen. We are not coming to you with policies already set that we want you to buy into. We want you to organize with us to engage and listen to tens of thousands of Albertans- face to face.

We want to hear your stories, hear about the challenges you are facing and the hopes you have for your family, community and our great province. These stories and experiences will define who we are and what we stand for. We are interested in a new kind of politics in Alberta.

The Big Listen is looking for Constituency Organizing Volunteers and House Meeting Hosts in every constituency in Alberta.

Sign up today to Host a House Meeting in your community.

To receive more information on Hosting a House Meeting, contact us at:, leave your name and phone number and someone from The Big Listen Team will contact you to provide you with all the help you need.

More information on the Big Listen and Hosting a House Meeting below.

The Alberta Party is coming to living rooms, kitchen tables and community centres across the province to hear your stories, learn about your challenges and hopes, and ask how you think a new party and government rooted in your values and ideas can be built. Our goal is to build a community we can all thrive in and be a part of.

What is a House Meeting?

A house meeting is an informal meeting of 8 to 20 people in your home or another location of your choice. In house meetings, a volunteer host invites neighbours, peers, co-workers or friends to talk about the pressures or challenges they are facing and what their hopes are for their families and communities. House-meetings are where we begin to surface the issues that are really important to Albertans.

Membership in the Alberta Party is not required to host or to participate in a house meeting.

House Meetings should build relationships, be fun and enjoyable and re-energize the political process. Host a House Meeting (wine tasting, potluck, coffee party, whatever you think people will enjoy and want to engage in.) House Meetings should not last more than 90 minutes.

If you are interested in hosting a Big Listen House Meeting contact us at: and we will provide you with a House Meeting Host Package and ongoing support and mentorship.

Let's get Organized!
Become a Volunteer
Constituency Organizer

The pathway to rebuilding the democratic and political culture in Alberta is by organizing our communities, helping people to build new relationships and by truly listening to each other. Your leadership in your community is key to reclaiming our democracy and our province.

Contact us:

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Voting for the heck of it

I heard the following conversation today:
"I'm so sick and tired of this government. If there was an election tomorrow, I would vote for that Wildrose party."
"Do you agree with their policies?"
"What policies? I don't know anything about their policies and I don't care. I just want what's there now to be gone."

Okay, I don't know about you, but this is not my idea of responsible, engaged voting. You should have an idea of what/who you are voting FOR (not just what you are voting against). You should know at least one party platform/policy/idea and be able to say: "Yes! That's my idea of good government."

So, I've adapted my quest for increased voting... to increased voting with a shred of thought behind it.
I don't think that's too much to ask for. I'm not suggesting a pre-voting pop quiz or screening of the voters to rank their worthiness...just a common sense expectation that you will have thought about your vote as much as you mull over which toothpaste to buy. Surely maintaining our democracy deserves at least as much thought as the Crest/Colgate/Pearly Whites debate.

Or do you think I'm way off base here?  Is the protest vote just as valuable as the informed vote? Where's the line for you? 

And.....ready, set, discuss.....

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Great thoughts from another blogger

I recommend reading Aaron's post on how to fix Alberta Politics. Some good thoughts in here... and lots of great links. (He kindly gave me permission to post this link.)

Stay warm. Ow! It's cold out there!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Another Learned Response on non-voting- Mt. Royal


I appreciate your offer.

There is lots of academic research on voting rates. Voting has dropped across the western world since the mid-1980s. Another statistic that is robust across countries is that young people do not vote. That always occurred in the past, but as young people got married, got jobs, mortgages, kids, etc then they would start to vote. Unfortunately, that is not happening today. If people do not vote when they are young, they are less likely to start when the get into their late 20s and early 30s.

I often hear that if the politicians were less boring or there were big issues than voter turnout would be higher. Well, Barrack Obama sure engaged people, especially the young, in the United States. Yet the 2008 election saw only 61.25 (voting-eligible population) and 56.8% (voting-age population) turnout. This is about the same as the 58.8% that turned out for the 2008 Canadian election. An election without Obama. The 2004 US election, which focused on the Iraq War, had a VEP was 60.1% and a VAP was 55.4%.

I have attached a power point presentation that I give in class, outlining some of the possible factors that impact voting rates. It determines the statistical significance from a series of cross-national studies.

For Canada, a couple of other observations can be made. First, voting rates decline proportionally depending on the type of election: Federal, provincial, and municipal. The exception is municipal rates in small jurisdictions. Cities have the lowest voter turnout and it gets worse depending on the type of position: mayor, alderman, school board.

Here are a couple of suggestions on increasing voter turnout in Canada:

Change electoral system to some sort of proportional representation. This will increase voter turnout may have some negative consequences. More importantly, referendums rejected PR in both BC and Ontario.

Bring make the enumerators. Door to door enumeration not only produced a better registration list, but it helped to socialize people about the upcoming election. The reason that enumerators were discarded was due to cost and the difficulty in finding them.

Longer hours for polling stations. Better use of advanced polling stations would help too.

Better locations for polling stations. The worst voter turnout in the last provincial election was in Fort MacMurray. But they did not place polling stations at either the worksite or the labour residences. Who would drive more than a hour into town to vote?

Compulsory voting laws. For example, a small fine ($25) which prevents you from renewing your drivers license until you pay it. I used to be opposed to this option. Not voting is also a choice. But the voter turnout has been dropping so precipitously that I have changed my mind. When voters disengage it is incredibly damaging to the political system. This justifies a compulsory voting law.

I hope this helps,


Duane Bratt, Ph.D

Associate Professor

Department of Policy Studies

Mount Royal University

4825 Mount Royal Gate SW

Calgary, AB, Canada


Tel: (403) 440-6540

Fax: (403) 440-6815

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

PHD Political Science Reply on Non-Voting

Hi Sue,

Thanks kindly for your message. A couple of places to start might be a report Andre Blais and I recently completed for Elections Canada on youth decline. It's here: Youth Electoral Engagement in Canada.

Another interesting study is by Blais et al: Where does turnout decline come from?

Finally, I think the wiki on turnout is actually rather informative in terms of the basic arguments: Voter turnout - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A final thought is that not everyone choose not to vote because of apathy!


Peter Loewen, PhD

Killam Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of Political Science
University of British Columbia

Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of Political Science
University of California, San Diego


Monday, December 7, 2009

Wikipedia on decreasing voter turnout

Your genes, serotonin, education, income, that darn television, easy of voting, age, salience (perceived impact), and concern for the well-being of others all thought to contribute to voter turn out. Who knew?

I had a hunch calling it "apathy" was a little too generic.....

What makes us vote- the science

From the Edmonton Journal article, I found two names: Peter Loewen and Duane Bratt. By googling their names, I've found their contact info and sent off emails to ask if they will comment on the issue of low voter turnout here in Alberta. Turns out, Mr. Loewen has written a whole lot on voting practices & psychology...including looking specifically at what makes people vote, whether compulsory voting works, etc. etc.

You can find his list of articles here:

I've printed off the one on Antipathy, Affinity....concern for others makes us vote.

I'm looking forward to learning more on this topic. This reminds me of my research and development days at Great North/Alliance Atlantis. There are so many fascinating people out there who know so much about so many topics.  Gotta love the expert specialist.