Winnipeg Votes: Are you going to cast your ballot?
Up to 50% of eligible voters expected to take part in Wednesday's election
Winnipeg's civic election could have a high voter turnout, with almost half of eligible voters expected to cast their ballots.
"It's easy! Try it. Do it," said Sasha Prokaski, who voted for the first time. "It's not that hard to do. Just go and vote."
Winnipeggers will head to the polls Wednesday to elect a new mayor, along with councillors and school trustees.
Civic election officials have already noticed that more people voted early this time around, compared to advance voting numbers from the 2010 general election.
But with upwards of 50 per cent of eligible voters expected to cast ballots in this election, what about the other half?
"I've never voted for anything in my life," said Stephane Gladue, 33, who does not intend to vote in Wednesday's election.
"It's probably a pretty important thing to do, but … I guess because I think everybody else votes, so I don't really need to."
Allen Mills, a political scientist at the University of Winnipeg, says a turnout rate of 50 per cent is not bad for a municipal election, but it's not great, either.
"There's a great deal of concern when voter turnout rate drops below, shall we say, 60 per cent," he said.
"It implies that you're getting to the point where more people are not interested in participating than are, and that's not good for democracy."
Mills said candidates need to do a better job engaging the public, but some citizens say voting is something they just grew into.
"There was a small time where I didn't vote, but then you just kind of start to realize that it matters. Voting matters," Reid Naaykens said on Tuesday.
Prokaski said seeing Robert-Falcon Ouellette, an aboriginal mayoral candidate, inspired her to vote for the first time.
"This is my first year, so I'm one of those that upped it to 50 per cent," she said.
And no one can stop Marietta Franco, who came to Canada from the Philippines, from casting her first ballot here.
"To be able to live in that life that you have dreamed of, then it's important to participate," she said.
Those who plan to vote on Wednesday are advised to go to their designated polling station — the one listed on their voter's cards or on the city's website — early. Polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday.
As for Gladue, he acknowledged one possible downside of not voting: "Do I have a right to complain if you don't vote? Nah, I don't think so."