Sunday, March 11, 2012

Why does federal NDP allow voting to occur before final debate takes place in Vancouver? It feel like an old-style national election where BC votes don't count

NDP leadership debate - is party moving Forward or Backward
by allowing voting to start before official debates end?

It was a great federal New Democrat leadership debate in Vancouver this afternoon.

Informative, entertaining and enlightening.

But I have one great big complaint - and it has nothing to do with any of the candidates.

Why is the federal NDP holding the last of its official leadership debates with voting for a new leader already well underway?

And why is long-suffering British Columbia subject to that old feeling we used to get on election night before staggered voting hours were introduced - that voters back East had already decided the results before our first ballots were counted?

We would turn on the TV and find that CBC, Global and CTV had already called the election!

So if the party feels these debates don't matter to NDP members and won't make any difference in candidate choices - then the ballots should have been sent out before the first debate even took place.

Obviously that's not how they feel and it didn't happen.

So if debates do matter and can change minds - then bloody well don't allow voting to take place until they're over!

What's worse is that British Columbia members have been strongly warned by the NDP that their ballots need to be in the mail by Monday March 12 to ensure they are counted.

That's less than 24 hours after the debate series ended.  Anyone concerned about getting their vote in has already popped it in the mail.

What's still worse is that after the debate, attended by 350 in studio and hundreds more in overflow rooms at CBC, I talked to at least four people who said they had changed their minds after watching - but couldn't change their votes!  They had already mailed in the preferential ballot.

So what about the thousands more NDP members watching the CBC NewsNetwork broadcast or online?

We in BC are well-known for our grievances against the East, Ottawa and Central Canada.

We don't like feeling left out.

So why did the federal NDP just do it again?



Don McBain said...

One of the penalties for living on the West Coast I suppose. But maybe your comment will sit with people in the right places to have it not happen again.

DPL said...

Strange when you think about it as the majority of NDP members seem to be from BC. What's the big rush, it's rather insulting to the candidates as well

Anonymous said...

It's called an Advance Poll.

Some people may not be available to vote (because of work, etc.) on Polling Day.

There is still ample opportunity to
vote and change your mind. In other words, a person might have wanted to vote for Nash, but decides on Brian Topp.

Not strange at all.

Besides if you're going to complain and whine, take it up with the Party.

Anonymous said...

ALso worth noting (in case the whinoes here missed it), is that the March 12th is the cut off for mail in ballots.

You can still vote right up to the Convention time online.

Some people may not make it to see or hear these debates or care for them, and just want to vote.

Remember folks, in the NDP:

"What we wish for ourselves, we wish for all".

Mulcair wins it, followed by Topp.

James King said...

Umm! Bill, my package included instructions for voting online.

Did yours not say the same thing?

Nobody HAS to use the mail-in format.

In fact, the mail-in ballot deadline is a result of the disintegration of the postal service and not a consequence of any disrespect for BC members.

As long as you can sign in on a computer you can vote online - and use the preferential ballot...or, you can vote your choice in each of the ballots online during the actual convention.


PeterInEdmonton said...

Bill, Sunday's debate ran here in Alberta on TV on PAC and (sic) Newsworld. Not being an ND and not being impressed with significent differences among TweedleOne through TweedleNine, I kept surfing, but the little I saw of it seemed to include national questions. Just because it was physically located in BC, didn't make it a BC-only event.

I assume that Mar. 12th is a national mailing deadline.

It sounds like at least nationally, you have one member one vote now, unlike Alberta's party, which infers old-fashioned delegate votes, per

"Through your riding, you may participate in provincial and federal conventions, submit policy resolutions and become a provincial council delegate."

Anonymous said...

Amazing how some just can't sort things through and read the package, and do research on their own.

They are quick to complain and whine and yet don't collect the facts before doing so.

Deadline (today March 12) is for mail ballots only. There's lots of time to vote online if you are so inclined.

If Bill had bothered to read the NDP package, or gone to the NDP website..

Don McBain said...

Bill did indeed know about the deadline. He was refering to those that had voted before the debate, and for them it could have changed their mind.

Anonymous said...

"Bill did indeed know about the deadline. He was refering to those that had voted before the debate, and for them it could have changed their mind."

I doubt that would happen. If people looked ahead and knew this debate was coming (it was scheduled, it was not an instant event) they would have held off their vote until afterwards.

These debates rarely if ever change a solidified vote. It might for the undecided, but they if they were smart would hold off voting, and remember the deadline was for the mail ballot, not the online or other means.

The only ones that voted before this debate were those who would have decided on how they would vote for their candidates anyway. They have been flooded with email, they could read the results of previous debates.

A smart person would hold off on voting if he/she was unsure still about whom the support should go.

Most members are not as dumb as some think of them to be.

The lesson material for the homework is always available.

Before and after a lecture.

The basic thing is to learn how to choose. Never choose on the basis of endorsements and/or emotion. Do the homework.

The NDP is still democratic, and will remain so. Even for those who can't seem to learn how to use it properly.

Bill Tieleman said...

Nice to see some snide sniping going on about this post - must have hit home!

Most members are not dumb at all - when they are told by the NDP to get their ballots in by March 12, they don't take chances.

That's the fundamental problem I raised - there's no way the final debate should be one day before the BC mail in ballot deadline! It's not hard to understand - most folks wouldn't take a chance on their ballot not counting because they mailed it late.

Second - I spoke with several members just at the debate who would have changed their first, second or third choice based on what they saw - but had already mailed their ballots in. I'm not inventing this issue - I hadn't thought of it until those folks talked to me.

Third - given that the NDP itself has said they expect 80% plus of members to vote by mail, don't give me BS about "online voting".

Not everyone trusts online voting and lots of NDP members don't feel comfortable trying to vote online - let alone waiting for voting day, making sure they are available to vote at the undetermined times of the votes etc.

Online voting is not the norm in Canada and isn't even used in any elections, so saying it's no big deal doesn't cut it - it is.

Lastly, if the shoe were on the other foot and the last debate was in Quebec City or Toronto after voting started does anyone seriously doubt that there would be hell to pay?

All I'm saying is that the official debates should have ended long before voting started. It's not hard to understand and it's not hard to do.

This process has been far too long anyway and the absence of several front bench critics has hurt the NDP already.

G West said...

This process has been far too long anyway and the absence of several front bench critics has hurt the NDP already.
If you'd made THAT point in your column I doubt you'd have gotten the response you did.
I think NDPers can handle the vicissitudes of online voting just fine...
Your thin-skinned 'western' sensibilities are showing Bill!
Any poor souls who actually voted before the debate (and who have subsequently changed their minds) are going to be about as critical to the outcome as the cohort of members who couldn't read and understand the voting procedures. Some people just can't cope with the idea that in politics if you don't learn, change and adapt then the future is going to leave you behind.

Anita Romaniuk said...

80% voting by mail?! In this age when some 90+ percent of households in Canada have access to a computer and most of those have access to the internet by some means, it's hard to believe 80% would choose to vote by snail-mail. Yes, there will be some people in remote areas, some (but by no means a majority) seniors who are not comfortable with the internet, and some low income people who have only sporadic access to the internet (in libraries, for example), but from the number of people I see out there who not only have computers, but these days carry their personal devices around with them, constantly, 80% if very hard to believe. I do agree that they should have scheduled the debates to occur prior to people receiving ballots - I think this would have moved the debates earlier rather than moving the ballot-mailing later due to post office constraints. I just question the 80% figure. Would be interesting to know after the vote just how many do vote on-line and how many vote by snail mail.

Anonymous said...

"Lastly, if the shoe were on the other foot and the last debate was in Quebec City or Toronto after voting started does anyone seriously doubt that there would be hell to pay?" Ummm...the Party did not even host a debate in Toronto. I think we have WAY more to whine about.

Ian said...

I haven't even received my package yet! But I was planning on voting with the convention.

PeterInEdmonton said...

Here's an update for you: The CBC's "The Current" broadcast their last of a series of interviews with the candidates with Martin Singh this morning. I don't know if the timing of the interview, being 2 days past the mail-in deadline, was the fault of the CBC or Mr. Singh. Certainly, Ms. Tremonti did not soft-toss him, the way she did with Bill's candidate, Ms. Nash, so it might have been to his advantage to wait until afterwards.

The interviews are easy to find, by the way, on the CBC web site if you haven't voted, yet. Mr. Mulcair declined to be interviewed.

As to those who belittle snail mail, there have been problems with e-voting in the past - I think there was a recent problem with an Alberta Provincial Liberal vote, although that might have been a phone vote.

By the way, my apologies for my past comment about "Tweedlenine". That should have read "Tweedleseven". As a non-ND, I did not keep track - I thought there were nine. I did learn a bit about your voting process from the Singh interview. The last two Alberta premiers won the PC leadership with a similar style of ballot and neither of them were the front-runners.