A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

X Marks the Spot…On the Ballot

Posted on: June 12, 2014

When I was growing up, many people seemed to look forward to turning 19 so that they could legally go out and order alcohol. I looked forward to turning 18 so that I could vote. And I haven’t missed an election since.

Usually, when the writ drops, I have a pretty good idea who will get my vote, and I try to vote in advance polls when I can.

Not this time.

I always read the campaign literature for the local candidates and try to get a sense of the party platforms, but my research took on extra importance this spring as I struggled to choose where to place my X on election day.

And having finally made my choice, I showed up at my polling station bright and early this morning so I could register and cast my ballot.

I heard a discussion this morning on the local talk radio station about the reasons for declining voter turnout, among them apathy, busy schedules, and an unappealing slate of candidates.

It would be easy to say that those who don’t vote have no right to complain about the government that comes to power. But I’d like to suggest some better reasons that might trump any excuses for not voting.

For one thing, voting is more than just a civic duty—it’s a right people worked hard to gain. Just visit the Elections Canada site for “A History of the Vote in Canada” to see what I mean. Women in Ontario and across Canada have had the right to vote for less than 100 years. Some groups have had to fight voting restrictions based on their ethnic origin or religion. And polling stations with level access, and ballots designed to accommodate voters who are visually impaired? These were a long time in coming.

For another, as Catholics, we can read in s. 2240 of the Catechism that “Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country” (italics mine).

And finally, if we want our government to better reflect our values and our opinions on issues great and small, the best way to do that is to vote.

For information about how, when and where to vote, just visit the Elections Ontario website. And for guidance in making your choice, here’s a “Prayer Before an Election” from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website:

Lord God, as the election approaches,

we seek to better understand the issues and concerns that confront our city/state/country,

and how the Gospel compels us to respond as faithful citizens in our community.

We ask for eyes that are free from blindness

so that we might see each other as brothers and sisters,

one and equal in dignity,

especially those who are victims of abuse and violence, deceit and poverty.

We ask for ears that will hear the cries of children unborn and those abandoned,

Men and women oppressed because of race or creed, religion or gender.

We ask for minds and hearts that are open to hearing the voice of leaders who will bring us closer to your Kingdom.

We pray for discernment

so that we may choose leaders who hear your Word,

live your love,

and keep in the ways of your truth

as they follow in the steps of Jesus and his Apostles

and guide us to your Kingdom of justice and peace.

We ask this in the name of your Son Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

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2 Responses to "X Marks the Spot…On the Ballot"

Thanks for this. I voted on my way home from work.

Thanks! I hope many people have made the time to vote today.

Comments are closed.

Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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