Ottawa – September 3, 2021 – With the snap federal election now upon us, and Election Day less than a month away, many of us are considering voting tactically or engaging in “strategic voting.” There is often disagreement about whether strategic voting influences the outcome of an election. Still, it is a question many of us are pondering, especially as we head towards the polls in the middle of a global pandemic.
Larry Savage, Professor of Labour Studies at Brock University, suggests that “strategic voting occurs when a voter casts a ballot not for their preferred candidate, but for the candidate they think is best positioned to defeat their least desired candidate.”
Those of us who consider ourselves strategic voters form expectations about the possible outcome of an election and make decisions about our vote according to those expectations. This can seem like a logical approach to voting under Canada’s first-past-the-post (FPTP) system, in which the election is won by the party that wins the most seats in Parliament.
Discussions around strategic voting are common, especially among those who consider themselves to be progressive voters, and among voters who are adamant about keeping Conservative politicians from winning seats in Parliament. However, as Professor Savage emphasizes, “strategic voting efforts have not only failed to block the election of Conservative candidates, but counter-productively facilitated their election by confusing voters and further splintering anti-Conservative votes.”
In fact, in the last two federal elections, the concept of strategic voting largely benefited Liberal politicians. Many people therefore argue that engaging in strategic voting is often a costly strategy for voters. This is especially true for those who want to elect a government that will establish public policies and programs which can address the needs of everyday working people.
For this election, it is imperative that we use our opportunity to vote and ensure that it is instrumental in affecting the outcome – that is, in electing a leader and political party that represents workers and their families. Referred to as expressive voting, we should be voting for the candidate and political party of our true preference. That is the best way of ensuring our votes have an important impact in this election.
Want to learn more about the 2021 Federal Election? Visit UFCW Canada’s official election webpage, UFCW Votes 2021, for information on #elxn44 and to learn how you can make a difference in this election.