Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Day After The Vote Before

The federal general electoral turnout in Canada hit a high of 79.4% in March of 1958.  Since then the trend has been decidedly downward reaching a low of about 58.8% in October of 2008.  The turn out of membership to vote for the recent Collective Agreement is very likely south of 50%.  I am guessing based on my observations of mobilisation turnouts and my own unscientific polling, but I would challenge anyone to prove me wrong.

Who votes in the General Elections? The Chief Electoral Officer of Canada on his website states that the lowest number of voters come from the 18-20 age group with a percent turn out of 35.6% with the highest turnout coming from the 65-74 age group with a percentage turnout of 68.4%.

What are the reasons behind the year over year declines, or the clear segmented turnout by age group?  There is a lot of research attempting to address this question and I won't burden you with the mountains of links I could give you here.  What is important is that there are people gathering this information, analysing this information, and proposing fact based theories as to the causes of the declining turn out.

As in any democratic country citizen engagement like membership engagement is an absolute necessity to a healthy and resilient country or organisation capable of withstanding the forces that would like to see its demise.

Yet if one was to ask the questions of AMAPCEO - why do we have such a lack of member engagement or why was the member turnout so low for a substantial agreement that will impact their lives and the lives of their families for years to come?  Our honest answer would be "I don't know" and our worst response would  be a shrug. Both amount to a shameful lack of insight into our membership. We just don't have the factual evidence to answer the questions.

We are clueless and will remain clueless until we start asking our membership the hard questions.  Only afterwards can be begin formulating and testing theories -- and courses of action that will increase engagement and ultimately turnout to mobilisation efforts and penultimately voter turnout.

If we don't take this opportunity so soon after the voting for the Collective Agreement we will loose the chance to ask vital and basic questions before the membership replaces their reasons for voting or not voting with the mundane trivialities of everyday living.

I'll also leave you with some additional information to mull over.  According to the Top OPS Workforce Facts as of June, 2014, 62% of overall new hires in the OPS are 34 years of age or younger.  According to the website of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada the age groups 34 years of age and younger only vote 37% of the time.  Is this a enduring characteristic of this cadre?  Will they hold to this character trait as they age and replace the older members? What does that mean for our long-term viability as an association?

In closing I would also challenge the reader to consider what it means if my earlier guestimate is true and less than 50% or less than 5554 of our 11,500 members felt strongly enough to cast a vote on such a critical issue.  Moreover, is it honest to say that the ratification vote resulted in a 96.6% YES vote or is it a white lie since not all the facts were revealed? I will just ask the questions and leave it to the reader to decide and act ...or not. 

But I feel that these questions and others must be asked and this sort of fundamental information that MUST be gathered, shared openly and discussed with the membership, and included in any strategic planning that will occur in the near future.


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