01 September 2009

Municipal election reality reminder

There are three weeks left in the municipal election in St. John’s.

Ballot kits go out in the mail on Friday, September 11 and they will start arriving in mailboxes on September 14.

The first ballots will start arriving back at City hall on September 15 and over the next week and a bit roughly 50% of the ballots that will come in will either be safely at Tammany on Gower or will be on the way via Canada Post.

About half the eligible voters in St. John’s will not bother to vote. 

Incumbents are more likely to get re-elected in any election but in St. John’s with the mail-in ballot system, the bonus that comes from incumbency is exaggerated even more than usual.

In other words, unless you have the misfortune of being an incumbent with some issues associated with your term on council – as in one ward in 2005 -  odds are heavily in your favour that you’ll go back to Tammany on Gower.  

Familiarity counts for a lot in St. John’s politics and in this election the dominant view seems to be that as long as you haven’t shagged anyone over, there’s no reason to change.  Bland is good, for the most part.  It’s a conservative town, at least on the outside, and sameness counts for much. What that means is that with the exception of a couple of spots, the incumbents are going back.

Over the next couple of days, your humble e-scribbler will take a look at the four spots where there is anything like a race:  Ward Three, At Large, Deputy Mayor and Mayor.



Anonymous said...

I hope you do endorsements too.

That way the 5 people who read it will know which Liberal hacks will cut public services to invest in dinners, wine and their private art collections al la Clyde Wells' caucus.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Gee, 1823, thanks for taking a break from defacing election signs to share your insights with the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

Incumbents are more likely to get re-elected in any election but in St. John’s with the mail-in ballot system, the bonus that comes from incumbency is exaggerated even more than usual.

So like how many city council incumbents are reusing campaign signs from at least one election ago?

These are the your comments concerning incumbency (sp??) and the issue of incumbents recycling election signs.

If I was an incumbent; why would I go through the expense of updating my election signs? Outdated signs and signs that have been used 12 years ago would have little effect on incumbents who are running...agree?

Anthony Roy

Edward G. Hollett said...

Absolutely correct.

In 2005, I ranted and raved about the faulty election system in St. John's.

I still think the system is tragically flawed right down to the ability for people to commit voter fraud that the City has noeither the means nor the inclination to detect let alone prevent.

They scarcely need to campaign at all and, as you will notice, the incumbents tend not to discuss very much of anything during election time except the fact their recycled signs have been vandalised.

Anonymous said...

The whole electoral system itself is in need of refurbishment, from municipal voting on up to the federal level.
Voter sentiment is dropping so much so that Elections Canada is trying to address voter apathy by suggesting an electronic voting process may address falling voter participation.
Sure, we have choices on the ballot but no way of telling the candidates that we don't like the selection we've been given on the ballot.
It should be more of an incentive, if you will, for people to go and mark their "X" instead of putting a spoiled ballot in the box.
Perhaps if we had a "none of the above" put on the ballot, we would have a way to guage that sentiment.
I, by the way, have no problem with old signs. It saves on plastic at the end of the day. They really need "currency" though...

Anonymous said...

I recall some of your posts about the flawed mail-in system...and couldnt agree more.

The funny thing is I am now resigned to the fact that only 50 % of people are going to lick the stamp and I wonder if I am picking flies from the shit...if you will!!

St. John's can and should afford a real election. Election day or the day you cast your ballot, is fundamental in democracy. The snese of involvement and the value placed on your 'X', (behind the cutain) is missed. I hope the debate to change it back, wilL begin in earnest.

BTW, where does the mail in system fit into municipal government across North America? Make no wonder incumbents are so strong.

Great time to talk about pensions;)

Anthony Roy

Edward G. Hollett said...


In places where mail-in ballots are used successfully they are usually subject to a number of rather strict controls on access and on voter identification.

There have been a number of exampels from the UK and elsewhere of massive voter fraud, all of which is easy under the current St. John's system. There are also issues with the counting method using the electronic scanners.

If you go back to some posts around the fall of 2005 (August/September) I think you'll find some useful things there.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you remind us who voted in favour of that goddamned vacant Dominion eyesore on QVlake? Then we'll know who to avoid.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Well, 2156, you'd have to ask as well who voted against it.

During that whole sad episode, councillors voted for it and against from week to week. Their positions shifted more often than Liz Taylor changed husbands.

Some of them tried the same thign tonight over a development plan for Bowering Park. Hopefully the media will cover it and give a detailed accounting of positions taken by candidates.

One of the fun things would be to compare anything Keith Coombs and other incumbents) said about the same plan before and what they told a bunch of voters tonight.

Flip? Meet flop.

Anonymous said...

There was no flip flop. You should get your facts straight before slinging out the example. The issue of Bowring Park was based on a conceptual plan. Not one incumbent, including Coombs, endorsed the concept as is. What they did endorse was the formulatrion of the plan and the need for additional infrastructure in the park. Locaions of garages and buildings will be discussed later

The same could be said about the George Street improvement concept. It is a concept and the details will be debated later. I am not quite sure how the Bowring Park concept plan could be construed as someone flip flopping on the issue.

Your cavalier approach to such comments is disapointing

Anthony Roy

Edward G. Hollett said...

Not sure what you mean, Anthony.

This is not just about imaginary drawings. It is a plan that was developed and approved some time ago.

The pond redevelopments and the water park redevelopment are all part of the same thing.

if it was all vague, as your comments suggest, then why would Fraser have organized a meeting so Keith could conveniently promise to stop the thing in light of all the opposition?

The CBC story and the comments related to it convey several very badly mistaken points here including what is proposed for the maintenance area. The meeting circular sent out also cocks up the locations of things although as I understand it, that was sorted out last night.

Flip flop would be the only word to describe the position taken by councilors - and Coombs especially - who have been working on the basis of this plan since the last election and now suddenly find aspects of it difficult.

One thing I didn't hear so far is any discussion of the improvements to the park which will have to be scuttled as a result of any motion Keith plans to bring forward.

Again, since it isn't imminent or, as you suggest, is just imaginary, I am wondering why Coombs would be rushing forward to stop it.

Leave to the next council. As it is, the whole thing smells of either a campaign stunt or more of the same old flippin' and floppin' from council, a la the stadium redevelopment.

BTW, I take it you are close enough to the Coombs campaign (and council generally) to know what position he and the rest have taken at any point over the past five years on this specific issue.

Anonymous said...

I am not close to any campaign...why would you think that? I wouldn't have a clue what Coombs or anyone else for that matter espoused over the last four years. Your level of paranoia that I am a comment gooser with inside knowledge, is way off base

I am of the understanding that this is a concept plan and by its nature is open to change. To Fraser's credit he is using the election soap box to express his NIMBY. That's why he called the meeting...Good on him!

This is a document to guide public discussion and by extension politicians should be open to change that is brought forward by constituents

Anthony Roy

Edward G. Hollett said...

Why would I think you are close to the Coombs campaign?

Maybe it had something to do with this comment: "Not one incumbent, including Coombs, endorsed the concept as is."

That's a pretty powerful statement to make and taken with the rest suggests a level of familiar with Coomb's positions that people not closely connected to his campaign just wouldn't have.

But that's really all as maybe since I consider the entire posture taken by Coombs and other last night to be suspect.

By your account, Coombs, who has sat on the foundation board for how many years now never endorsed the development plan for Bowring Park.

Interesting thought.

Ditto for Doc.

Never endorsed the development plan.

All just "concept" and therefore not real.

Still, it all smacks of the sort of flip flopping we saw on the stadium. Everything is okay until some event like this. Then suddenly and for no reason - if it is just a concept plan, after all - we have current councilors pledging to stop the dastardly maintenance area and protect Fraser's back-yard.

You can see why people who are familiar with the park and the plan might be a bit surprised to find out this is a hot issue.

And someone familiar with the park and the plan might find it odd that people as familiar with the whole issue as Coombs and O'Keefe and others might suddenly abandon something that's been way more than a "concept" for the past five years.

BTW, do you know where I might find some good pictures of Keith going door to door? They aren't on his website yet.