Municipal election day isn't for another two weeks, but in St. John's some of the voting will basically start tomorrow.
Ballots were sent out by mail on Friday and are expected to arrive in households any time after the weekend. City officials advise those who do not receive their voting package by at least Thursday to call 311 and take it from there.
The city expects the bulk of the ballots to be filled out and sent back by the end of the week. After that, according to past experience, returns will slow to a trickle that will end in one final voting flurry just before election day.
A motley crowd of procrastinators, traditionalists and other non-conformers will still be able to fill out ballots on the day itself at what are now called satellite drop-off centres.
It's an entirely new game.
For voters, no more inconveniences like lining up at polling stations. They can now take the same kind of private time with casting their ballot as they might with paying their bills.
For candidates, no more campaigning to the bitter end. They now have to adjust their strategies to the law of diminishing returns and to a new answer at the door: "Sorry, you're too late. I've voted already."
Power, corruption and the common good
With all this change, maybe there's also room to rethink why people should vote in the first place.
Try this one.
Most candidates will tell you the reason they're running is because they want to change things on your behalf.
They can only do that with the power that comes with being elected. And we all know that power corrupts. They are, basically, asking you to abet their corruption.
And there's a trade-off. In return for abetting this possible corruption, which is arguably a horrible thing to do, you agree to give them your trust. It's the least you can do.
You might wonder whether, besides handing over your trust, you're also kissing your common sense goodbye.
But this is not about common sense. This is all about the common good, an entirely different beast.
The common good demands sacrifice. And look at the sacrifice the candidate at your door offers to make. Nothing less than to climb the cross of corruption so you can remain pure.
That puny bit of power
This business of people corrupting themselves for the good of others, by the way, is an old tradition with a long and illustrious history.
Do you really think Henry VIII was a happy man whoring his way through his court and ordering one head chopped off after another when he and all the kowtowers around him could have lived so much more wholesome lives in country cottages? Did Richard Nixon really enjoy being the crook he said he wasn't? Do Canadian senators really spend all that money because they enjoy traveling in cramped air planes? Think about it.
And you, the voter. What have you got to lose by giving a candidate a bit of the power allotted you by the social contract of democracy?
Maybe you've always resented the fact that nobody asked you whether you wanted to come into this world with or without power, and, lo and behold, you came into it without.
Maybe you've been building up your own little stash of power ever since, and the stress of it has done nothing but make you miserable.
Well, here's your chance to reclaim happiness.
We have it on best authority that the meek shall inherit the earth. So hand over your puny ration of power.
Let that be your sacrifice to the common good. Then say a prayer for those willing to corrupt themselves for you. They need it.