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As a follow-up to an earlier post looking at the general numbers of Parry Sound elections, this post looks at what the numbers might be telling us.

The Key to Being Elected? Be known, and respected. You don’t need to be a voter’s first, second, third, fourth or even fifth choice. Being number six on every ballot will not only get you elected – it will make you the top vote getter.

The Numbers – Redux
In a previous post I summarized and offered an analysis of the election results for the past two Parry Sound municipal elections. Here is the link. The key takeaways from that analysis were:

Total Number of Eligible Voters: 4,500 (approximate)
Total Number of Voters Casting Votes: 2,500 (approximate)
Largest Vote Number for an Elected Councillor: 1,700 (approximate)
Smallest Vote Number for an Elected Councillor: 1,000 (approximate)

The bottom line is that to be elected to Parry Sound Council a person has in the past needed to capture about 1,000 votes.

Votes – Used and Unused
Here are estimates related to the votes cast in the past two elections for Parry Sound Council. The table below relates to Council seats not Mayor, and will benefit from some explanation.

Eligible Votes Votes Cast Possible Votes Unused Votes
2010 28,080 11,608 15,366 3,786
2014 27,138 11,028 14,760 3,732

Eligible Votes refers to the number of eligible voters, according to the voting roll, multiplied by six. Six is the number of votes each voter can use to select candidates for Council. You can’t vote for one person six times, but you can vote for up to six separate candidates listed on the ballot.

Votes Cast is the sum of all of the actual votes cast for all of the candidates running for Council in each of the two past elections.

Possible Votes is calculated by multiplying the total number of people who actually voted by six. In 2014 about 2,460 people actually cast a vote. That means there were a total of 14,760 available votes for Council (6 x 2,460). In the end, only 11,028 votes were actually cast for the position of councillor. Some 3,732 votes ‘looking for a candidate’ never found one.

On average, every person who showed up to vote did not use 1.5 of their votes. The average person who actually voted selected between four and five candidates.

Strategic Voting
I have heard the argument that some folks try to get their underdog candidate(s) elected by voting only for them and no one else. The reasoning is that voting for anyone else might unintenionally allow another candidate(s) to accumulate enough votes to defeat your preferred candidates. I don’t think too many people are that strategic in their voting. The average 4.5 votes cast suggests people know who they want and then don’t have an opinion, or even knowledge, of the rest. If there was considerable ‘strategic voting’ that number might be as low as 3 votes per voter.

‘I Know You’ Voting
More likely, in my opinion, is the possibility that you know only four or five of the available candidates and hold them in high regard. You may know a couple of the others, and not like them for any number of reasons. And the rest? You wonder where they came from. Rather than vote your full allotment, you stop at the four or five you know and respect rather than take a chance on an unknown.

Election 2018 – Are You a Name or a Person?
There are a total of 14 individuals running for the position of councillor in Parry Sound. After covering Parry Sound Town Council for about the past 8 years and serving as a volunteer or board member on more than a half dozen local organizations for that same period of time, and regularly reading the North Star/Beacon Star, I recognize only half of the people running for Council. Four of them are current members of Council who I have often spoken with, one candidate I met socially on several occasions, another I met in my role as a member of a community board of directors, and one other I recognize from their running in the last election. Only one of these three made anything close to a positive lasting impression. The other seven are totally unknown to me.

Bottom Line
Want to be elected as a councillor in Parry Sound? Be well known and be known for doing good stuff. With more than 3,000 votes ‘ looking for a home’ you don’t even need to take a vote from someone else to be elected. You just need to be known as a good person. That’s done through years of community participation and the type of work that too often goes unrecognized, until it comes to election time. Getting elected isn’t a project that starts two months before an election solely with slogans and attitude.

In the next post I will outline what it will take to capture one of my two available votes for the position of councillor. The first four are already decided.