Voting in Toronto.

Last night I voted in the upcoming municipal election. It is not yet E-Day, so perhaps it was a bit premature to make a decision before all the facts have come in, but we’re close enough now, and I’ve been paying enough attention, that I felt justified in getting it done with. The City offers a lot of convenient advance voting options – it took all of about ten minutes to get to the spot, and get the whole affair completed.

I didn’t expect to be on the voter’s list, as this is my first municipal election (I moved to the City only a few months after Rob Ford won the mayoralty in 2010) but after standing in line to be added to the list, I found that I was indeed already signed up. To my mild embarrassment I had forgotten to check my mail for the voter card – it may well be in there right now, psychically taunting me with its uselessness. Anyway the kind people working for Elections Toronto (?) were very helpful and got me all set up in no time.

The technology they have in service of this election cycle is impressive. I worked as a DRO for the recent provincial election, and so have some idea of how the on-the-ground work goes on election day, and the City appears to have a more sophisticated system than the province as a whole. Each staff member had a nice-looking HP laptop (colour co-ordinated, presumably for bulk discounting) along with a few large printers set up for any paperwork generation. On the flip side, for the provincial election, we had paper and pen only.

The ballot in Toronto this year is enormous, with something like fifty people running for mayor (though with the amount of saturated coverage of the Big 3 one would be justified in not knowing so) and quite a few for council in my ward as well. I had even done some research for my school trustee and felt confident in the vote I cast.

Now, I intend to be fairly forthright about this whole thing – as I alluded in my previous post, anonymity is something I’ve always appreciated, but I’m trying to change my ways a little – so here’s what I think. There was a lot of activity at the early voting centre last night, and apparently there has been a very high turnout so far – moreso than the last election by a wide margin. This is great news. Many Torontonians consider this election to be a referendum on the Ford administration, and even though the incumbent is not running again, he may as well be, for all intents and purposes. The prospect of a Doug Ford mayoralty has put a lot of people on edge, and there’s talk about Chow splitting the anti-Ford vote with Tory, allowing Doug to slip up the middle. Many of the current polls seem to indicate a two-man horse-race between Ford and Tory, with Chow a distant third, and the rest of the slate of candidates far back in the swamps of fringe status.

The problems with polling have been well-documented elsewhere so I shan’t get too into them here, save to say that Doug cannot win. Okay, maybe it’s not fair to deal in absolutes in this anything-goes world, but as other commentators have pointed out, there is a ceiling on Doug’s support that hovers around the 30% mark. Of course, when one takes into account intentions to actually go out and vote, the support dwindles. Many of the people who participate in a survey for a polling firm will not necessarily go out and vote on E-Day, and for whatever reason, a larger percentage of Doug supporters seem to fall into this camp.

All this said, I fully expect a Tory mayoralty to be announced in just over a week. For a long time he’s been the go-to anti-Ford candidate, and Chow has not had a lot of luck changing that over the campaign. He is not the candidate I would choose, necessarily, and it strikes me as odd, somehow, that a former Rogers CEO and leader of the Ontario PCs at one time could go on to sweep not only the amalgamated suburbs but downtown as well. Stranger things have happened, as we’ve all witnessed over the past four years, to our alternating shame and amusement, and ultimately, I don’t think Tory would be a bad mayor. He seems like a guy who wants so desperately to win that he will say just about anything to anyone. Again, not an uncommon trait, perhaps… Still, I get the impression from Tory that he will be a little more willing to work with people of a differing ideological bent when presiding over Council. This is something we really need to see in Toronto. I don’t necessarily agree with his somewhat conservative viewpoint (and the idea of funding projects without cutting services or raising taxes by finding ‘efficiencies’ is patently absurd, as KPMG would be more than willing to tell you for a cool $30m) but at least we’ll be more or less free of the freak show.

Except for the future councillor for Ward 2, that is, who is very likely to provide yet more face-palms for the general population. I like Domise but ultimately I’m a realist.

So there’s a surface level election roundup. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens over the next week, especially now that I’ve cast my vote and all I can do is watch events unfold. Realistically that’s all I could do regardless, as I’ve so little free time for canvassing this year, but it’s nice to be ‘off the hook’ as it were. The chips will fall where they may, and with a little luck, we’ll be back to a more-or-less functional city government able to get things done for the people of Toronto.

-LB

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