O.k.. someone explain this to me. Now I know that my son is over there and could possibly be intrumental in making sure troops vote (as some know), however that does not explain the apathy here. It truly makes me shake my head. Again I say how proud I am of our troops!
Advance poll. Turnout far exceeds national average
The work day all but over yesterday, Bombardier Hollie Speers did what a lot of Canadians are thinking about these days: she voted in an advance poll.
Unlike the average voter, though, Speers cast her ballot with an assault rifle slung over her shoulder at a polling booth deep in Taliban country.
She was part of a Herculean effort to ensure that hundreds of Canadian troops in Afghanistan get a chance to exercise their democratic franchise, between firefights and reconstruction projects.
So far, the project has been a surprising success. The 75-per-cent poll turnout at Speers's forward operating base west of Kandahar city far exceeds the usual national average.
"I felt like, 'How could they not (set up a poll)?' " said the soldier, who helps operate a 155mm artillery gun. "It's a big part of why we're here, so how could they take it away from us?" Elections Canada sent ballots for all of the 2,500 or so Canadian service people stationed in Afghanistan. About a third of them had to be shipped out to the various outposts scattered through the most volatile parts of Kandahar province. Some were even transported by helicopter to the bases.
Capt. Chris Reeves, second-in-command at Speers's base and its designated deputy returning officer, said he had just got back from a harrowing patrol a few weeks ago - where he and his men came under fire from insurgents - to find a package addressed to him from Elections Canada.
It explained, among other points, that he was to allow representatives of the political parties to observe the polling if they applied. As it turned out, "none of the parties showed up," Capt. Reeves said with a grin, as shots rang out from a nearby rifle range.
Soldiers find their home riding in a booklet provided by Elections Canada, choose from a list of candidates for each riding and place their marked ballots in a sealed envelope, which is then sent off to Ottawa.
Reeves said the exercise has served as an unofficial lesson in democracy for the interpreters and other Afghan workers on the base, many of whom asked Capt. Reeves what all the fuss was about.
Some Canadian soldiers told him it was the first time they had voted, he said.
The officer was not alone in linking the election to the Afghanistan mission, partly intended to prevent a return of the anti-democratic Taliban.
"I feel it's my duty to vote," said Master Cpl. David Ritchie, an infantryman with the Royal Canadian Regiment's third battalion.
He said he has kept up to date with the campaign via Canadian TV beamed to a television in the base's mess.
"I'm a soldier and I'm a citizen," said Bombardier Ian Scott, 22, explaining why he felt it important to cast a ballot.
The only troops turned away by Capt. Reeves were two Americans who are here to train Afghan police. They thought they could cast a ballot in the U.S. presidential election at his polling station.
If You Didn't Vote, Shame on You
The Ottawa Citizen Published: Friday, October 17, 2008
Shame on all those eligible voters who did not exercise their democratic right to elect a new government on Oct. 14. Only 59 per cent exercised their right. Watching television interviews just before the election, it was hurtful to view apathetic Canadians, young people in particular, explain away with shallow excuses why they did not intend to vote.
Our right to vote in a democratic process has been bought with the blood and agony of thousands of young Canadians who have fought and died in foreign lands in the last 100 years. And the fight continues with Canadian soldiers dying in Afghanistan in defence of the democratic principles which we accept without thought. In my opinion, those who did not vote have demeaned our military and government personnel who continue to operate under the harshest imaginable conditions in Afghanistan. Hang your heads in shame.