1.6 the government and_you_elections_website


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1.6 the government and_you_elections_website

  1. 1. The Government and You: The Electoral Process
  2. 2. Election • An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. • A by-election is an election held to fill a political office that has become vacant between regularly scheduled elections. Like if the Prime Minister dies. • In an election people use ballots to vote for the representative they would like to vote for.
  3. 3. The Government and You: The Electoral Process • Any Canadian citizen 18 years of age or over, may choose to run at election time as a candidate in a federal constituency (also called ridings, seats, or electoral districts) • Constituency means the population of a particular geographical area (usually about 100 000 people) • Usually candidates represent a political party (however they can be independent of any specific political party) •A party platform is a document stating the goals and beliefs of a political party; if people agree with the party platform they are more likely to vote for that party.
  4. 4. The Electoral Process Cont’d • If a party wins more than one-half of the total number of seats, it forms a majority government, while a party which gets more seats than any other party, but less than ½ of the total seats in the HOC forms a minority government. • A coalition government is when several political parties must cooperate to run a country or region. These types of governments are often considered somewhat weak because there is no majority party. In such cases, the only way that policy gets approved is by each side compromising. A coalition government might be created in a time of national difficulty or crisis, for example during wartime, or economic crisis,
  5. 5. The Government and you Elections Continued • The electoral process in Canada is set out in the Canada Elections Act It can be considered to have six stages: • 1. Dissolution • 2. Enumeration • 3. Nomination • 4. Campaigning • 5. Balloting • 6. Tabulation
  6. 6. The Electoral Process Dissolution • One of the ceremonial duties of the GG is to dissolve the HOC. They do this on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. • At this point the MP’s are dismissed from the HOC and a new election date is suggested by the PM. This must be within 50 days of the date of dissolution. • However a vote of non-confidence could force an election at any time during a 4 year term. • Fixed election dates are in effect provincially in BC. On the 2nd Tuesday in May every 5 years. • “Dropping the writ” is the term for when the head of government (Prime Minister) goes to the head of state (Queen Elizabeth ll) and formally advises her to dissolve parliament. The head of state grants the request and issues a writ of election for a new parliament.
  7. 7. The Electoral Process Enumeration • Following dissolution the GG asks the Chief Electoral Officer, to issue election writs. • Returning officers make up the list of voters’ names “returned” to the constituency office and the election results “returned” in that constituency on election day. • The preparation of the voters’ list is known as enumeration. • When people go to vote they go to Polling Stations (generally set up in schools etc.) • Each polling station has its own list of voters. On average each poling station has about 250 voters names on there lists.
  8. 8. The Electoral Process Nomination • As soon as election writs are issued, each party must decide who will be its candidate in each constituency. The selection of candidates is known as Nomination. • Any Canadian citizen 18 years or older may be nominated as a candidate. • Parties generally select a candidate for each constituency at a nomination meeting, held in that riding. Party members present at the meeting vote until one of the people seeking the nomination has a majority. • People without any attachment to a political party who become candidates are called independents • Every candidate must make a deposit of 200$ with the returning officer for the constituency. They must also present nomination papers containing the signatures of 25 other electors. If the party leader officially endorses the candidate, the latter’s name will be listed on the ballot for that constituency on election day.
  9. 9. The Electoral Process Nomination • Canada operates under a representation by population method. In this method, elected representatives will be chosen by numerically equal blocks of voters. • In Canada, ridings are split up into blocks of 100,000 voters or so. Each riding gets 1 representative. • Some ridings cover huge areas because they are rural and have a low population. • The whole province on Nunavut has 1 federal riding. There are 16 in Vancouver alone. • Every 10 years, after the census is conducted, the number of ridings and their boundaries are revised to reflect population shifts and growth. Your electoral district – which is where you live and vote for your member of Parliament – may change as a result of the redistribution process.
  10. 10. The Election Process Campaigning • The Campaign takes place from the time when election writs are issued to the weekend before election day. • The Parties and candidates present themselves to the public through the various media and public meetings, in an attempt to convince the public to vote for their parties candidate.
  11. 11. The Electoral Process Balloting • On the day of a federal election each polling station is open from 8 am to 8 pm • Employers are required by law to allow their workers time to vote. • In most cases, polling stations are located in a neighborhood school, church, or community center. • Advance Polls exist for people who for one reason or another can not vote on election day.
  12. 12. The Electoral Process Balloting • Each polling station is manned by a Deputy Returning Officer who is responsible to the Returning Officer. When a voter enters a polling station, his or her name is checked by the DRO against the voters list (a list of the names and residential addresses of the voters registered in each electoral district) prepared for the poll. • The DRO gives the voter a ballot, the voter pencils an “X” in the box beside the name of the candidate he/she favors. The voter then folds the ballot, leaves their booth and gives the ballot to the DRO, who drops it into a special locked box. • The vote has been cast
  13. 13. The Electoral Process Tabulation • Once the polling stations close, the ballot boxes are opened and the ballots are counted by the D.R.Os. These days computers tabulate the voting results for many polls. • A scrutineer observes the counting of ballot papers, in order to check that election rules are followed. • This process is known as Tabulation. At the close of voting, local television and radio stations can legally begin to broadcast the results as they come in. • Voter turnout or participation is the percentage of eligible voters who cast a ballot in an election. • Voter participation has steadily decreased since the 1960’s
  14. 14. Elections Public opinion Polls • Political Parties spend a lot of money conducting POPs. • Mass Media spends an enormous amount of time presenting the results of polls. • How might POPs affect voter turn out? The headquarters for EKOS Research at 359 Kent St. in Ottawa, much of their political polling is done for CBC news
  15. 15. Elections Expenses Act • Campaign spending is limited by eligible voters per riding • Donations can be made to campaigns. Those over $200 must be made public • If you receive 15% of the votes in your riding you are reimbursed half of your costs.
  16. 16. Election Night • • • • • • • • We use the First–past-the-Post-system This means that you do not need a majority of votes only the most votes. In every electoral district, the candidate with the highest number of votes wins a seat in the House of Commons and represents that electoral district as its member of Parliament. Some countries use a proportional Representation system. Proportional representation (PR) is used to elect an assembly or council. PR means that the number of seats won by a party or group of candidates is proportionate to the number of votes received. For example, under a PR voting system, if 30% of voters support a particular party then roughly 30% of seats will be won by that party. PR is an alternative to voting systems based on single-member districts or on bloc voting; these non-PR systems tend to produce disproportionate outcomes and to have a bias in favour of larger political groups. PR systems tend to produce many political parties. The degree of proportionality varies under different styles of proportional representation. How proportional the system is, is determined by factors such as the precise formula used to allocate seats, the number of seats in each constituency or in the elected body as a whole, and the level of any minimum threshold for election. In the PR system you generally get as many seats as your popular percentage dictates.
  17. 17. Election Night Cont’d • Another system of voting is called the Single Transferable Vote system, where voters list the candidates in order of preference. Any candidate achieving a predetermined number of the votes in a riding is elected. Votes exceeding this amount and those cast for the bottom candidate are redistributed according to the stated preferences. Redistribution continues until all the seats are filled
  18. 18. Other ways to Change Things Individual Contact Methods • Contact your city council, MLA or MP. • All government representatives have offices in your neighbourhood. Most with walk in policies. • You can communicate with public servants who carry out the day to day business of the government. • You can send letters to editors, call in to radio shows or sometimes even get on public TV. • Can you think of any other ways?
  19. 19. Other ways to Change Things Affecting Large Scale Political Change • Three ways: 1. Pressure Groups & Lobbyists: 2. Utilizing Mass Media 3. Civil Disobedience  Pressure Group
  20. 20. Pressure Groups and Lobbyists • Definition: Groups who seek to influence government policies and decisions. • Two Types: 1. Institutionalized – Well established formal organizations which are always around. 2. Issue-Oriented – Less permanent groups looking to accomplish smaller aims and then disappear.
  21. 21. Some Major Institutionalized Groups (Non-Governmental Organizations) • Greenpeace - Focuses its campaigning on world wide issues such as global warming, deforestation, overfishing, commercial whaling, genetic engineering, and anti-nuclear issues. Greenpeace uses direct action, lobbying and research to achieve its goals. • Canadian Cancer Society- organization of volunteers whose mission is to eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life of those living with the disease. • Free The Children – international charity and educational partner, working both domestically and internationally to empower youth as agents of change. The organization was started by Canadian human rights advocate, Craig Kielburger, when he was only 12. • United Way- campaigns raise money for local groups that address community issues and problems.
  22. 22. More NGO’s • Canadian Red Cross - humanitarian charitable organization and one of 187 national Red Cross societies. The mission of the Canadian Red Cross is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity in Canada and around the world. • Doctors without Borders- Nobel Peace Prize laureate, best known for its projects in war-torn regions and developing countries facing endemic (bad) diseases. • OXFAM- focuses on the root causes of poverty, injustice and inequality, with the intent of creating better communities. Oxfam believes that to end global poverty women's rights must be secured. • Western Canada Wilderness Committee- aims to protect Canada's wild spaces and species. Paul George, the founding director, formed the Wilderness Committee in the province of British Columbia in 1980.
  23. 23. Pressure Groups Continued How do pressure groups work? • Provide research and advice to government ministries. • Take issues to court, e.g. Abortion. • Hire lobbyists (former senior officials) to utilize their connections when meeting with important politicians. What are some possible issues with pressure groups?
  24. 24. Utilizing the Mass Media • The Mass Media dictates most of the information we see! • Issues that get a lot of media coverage get more attention from government. • Some groups pull publicity stunts to draw more attention to their issue.
  25. 25. Civil Disobedience • Definition: The act of intentionally breaking a law which is deemed unjust. • King said it is only warranted when there is significant harm from the law itself. • Civil disobedience is about taking responsibility for your actions. • Willingness to face punishment.
  26. 26. • First: Get into groups of three or four. • • • • • Second: Choose an issue below. 1. Should citizens have more direct input into government? 2. Should Canada pressure the third world to stop child labour? 3. Should Canada continue to send troops to Afghanistan? 5. Other. BUT must be approved by the teacher first. • • • • • • • • • • Third: Make a one page report, setup as your group sees fit, which: 1. Lays out the arguments for both sides of the issue. - Your group needs to be balanced in its approach. - Knowing both sides help to defend your position. 2. Decide what methods you will use to draw attention to your issue. - If you are using Mass Media what will you do to get attention? - If you are going to protest, where would be the best place? 3. Decide what levels of government you will need to direct attention to. 4. Arrange a 2 minute outline of your report to start class discussion. - Each group will have to present.