Unintended consequences of making voting easier

Like me, Contrarian reader Stan Jones voted at one of the continuous advance polling stations his riding (though presumably he did so sans caméra).  These polls were among the innovations Elections Nova Scotia introduced to combat flagging turnout, by making it easier for people to vote. They proved popular, but as Jones points out, they had the unintended consequence of lessening the analytical usefulness of poll-by-poll returns:

[I]t does seem to complicate poll-by-poll analysis, since it looks to me as if all those votes are reported with the Returning Office as the poll, rather than some district poll.

For example, in Yarmouth, some 1,660 votes were recorded at the RO, about 19 percent of the total. Another 685 were recorded at the two scheduled advance polls. In all, 27 percent of the votes can’t be associated with a particular area poll.

This didn’t matter too much in Yarmouth, where Zach Churchill copped 82 percent of the votes cast—as Jones points out, he had more votes at the advance polls than the second place finisher, Tory John Cunningham had in the entire district—but it would make analysis more difficult in ridings where the vote was closer.

Jones thinks the relative compactness of the Yarmouth riding may have increased take-up at the continuous poll, aided by some special factors:

Lots (and lots) of people were on Main Street in downtown Yarmouth for the street hockey tournament during the election and the RO is just a block off Main Street. It was easy to drop in to the RO between games (that’s what I did). It might also have helped that the Yarmouth Corral (a very popular local mobile food truck) was parked right across of the RO during the tournament – I had a pulled pork sandwich right after I voted.

Truly, all politics is local, right down to the pulled pork sandwich. Turnout in Yarmouth was 65 percent, versus 59 percent province-wide.

In the ridings I checked, a significant portion of the ballots were cast at riding offices, continuous polls, or scheduled advance polls where they could not be tied to a geographic location. In Sydney-Whitney Pier, where the contest was thought to be close, 30 percent voted in non-geotagged polling stations.  In vast Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie, 20 percent; equally far-flung Victoria the Lakes, also 20 percent; Antigonish, 37 percent; Argyle, 17 percent.; Glace Bay, 34 percent.

A video tour of Nova Scotia’s grandest old theatre

Here’s a nice touch: As part of the promotion for the Savoy Theatre’s forthcoming production of Les Misérables (May 24 to 29), the Cape Breton Post and Seaside Communications have put together a video describing the Savoy’s fascinating history and architecture:

The narrator, Steve “Beak” MacDonald, pretty much grew up with the Savoy. His parents, Scotchie and Mary Marsh MacDonald, were major supporters of the theatre when it hosted Rotary Club musicals in the 1960s and ’70s. Actors, musicians, and crew members associated with the productions were often billeted in the MacDonalds’ home on Sydney’s Wentworth Park.

Here’s an image of the theatre entrance from decades gone by:

Savoy Theatre-old-500

Video production by Jason LeFrense and Brandon Ferguson of Seaside. (Disclosure: Seaside is a client and Beak is a friend.)

Real politicians don’t stalk Facebook

In the 1979 Canadian federal election, the Liberals thought they had a shot at defeating MP Fr. Andy Hogan. They nominated the popular mayor a Glace Bay and sent a young hotshot cabinet minister, one Jean Chretien, into the riding to campaign.

While shaking hands on Commercial Street, Chretien found himself in front of NDP headquarters. Without skipping a beat, he plunged inside and began working the room, greeting the mostly elderly women working the campaign office. In seconds he had them cooing and giggling and shaking his hand. He was utterly charming, and they were utterly charmed.

That’s what a real politician does. She seeks out those who don’t support her, and those who aren’t sure, and by force of personality, breaks through preconceptions and partisan resistance. Properly played, it’s not a game of us against them. It’s us persuading them.

In the service of Canada – updated

The Globe’s Michael Valpy has a thoughtful piece on the burgeoning interest in Remembrance Day commemorations, especially among young people. The graphic below accompanies the article.

Canadian War Dead-s

While researching his namesake, Rev. Miles Tompkins, a First World War army chaplain, Contrarian reader Miles Tompkins came upon some sobering numbers:

The waste of human life hit Cape Breton and the Diocese of Antigonish very hard. The diocese runs from Our Lady of Lourdes in Stellarton to the tip of Cape Breton, and even included the Italian Mission and a Syrian Parish in Cape Breton. Well over 500 boys from this diocese were killed in WW1, with 1500  suffering horrific injuries such as gas, etc. In Glace Bay alone, 29 were killed and 49 wounded. What a blow to the area.