Within Canada, the decline in citizen participation has been exceedingly high leading to unequal representation amongst various parts of the population. As an overview, citizens suggest that voters, such as themselves, find political parties overly elite dominated, insufficiently responsive and lacking in opportunities for voters to influence their policy platforms (Cross, 2004, p.171, quoted in Course Kit, p. 39). Countless voters believe the explanation behind the decline in citizen participation is not due to a particular reason but incalculable judgements made by observing political representatives. For starters, parties lack engagement with the community and general public, leaving the voice and opinions of their citizens unheard (Carothers, 2006, p.4, quoted in Garner et al. 2017, p. 223). Individuals within the population observe how representatives from different parties become active solely through elections when they are in desperate need for votes. Although, when citizens are in need of real changes to be made by their representatives, the leaders of these parties abandon their community, since they wanted to give the persona of an active leader specifically to gain votes. Secondly, parties pursue the interest of their own good rather than those of the ordinary citizens who look towards the benefit of the community as a whole (Carothers, 2006, p.4, quoted in Garner et al. 2017, p. 223).
Individuals within the public witness political parties as a corrupt and self-interested organization which is dominated by power-hungry elites. The political representatives who pledge for the greater good of the community turn out to pursue goals which benefit themselves or those of rich financial sponsors and investors, losing sight of what their main purpose as a leader is.
Moreover, parties are examined as ill-prepared to govern since political representatives never indicate what their stance on different concepts are which portray them as uneducated leaders (Carothers, 2006, p.4, quoted in Garner et al. 2017, p. 223). Whether in government or in opposition, the ideologies of a politician can be symbolic but their platforms are vague and insubstantial. When asked questions or challenged on specific issues within current society, politicians continuously find ways to avoid answering these questions or sharing their opinion since it can be used against them and can potentially sabotage their campaign. Finally, the rise of post-materialist values, such as the importance of life and the environment is another main concept for the decline of parties, as these issues are not generally a major concern for traditional parties (Course Kit, p. 39). This results in many voters looking towards interest groups and social movements for a greater representation of their views. While the debate of political parties being in decline or simply changing as the demands of voters change, these political leaders do remain dominant players during elections and continue to structure our representative institutions.
In liberal democracy today, many adjustments can be made to make electoral politics more inclusive and appealing for members of a community, as well as ensuring these necessary modifications are achieving meaningful representation. The first alteration that can be implemented into electoral politics is online voting. Technology is a tremendous factor that is apart of an individual's life within the 21st century, resulting in online voting to be the most convenient form of voting possible for individuals who have access to computers, tablets or phones connected to the internet (Lopez, 2016). This system makes voting more appealing because individuals are now capable of voting within any time of day and from any location.
In present-day living, individuals have little to no time to do anything or go anywhere, which is why it would be beneficial for them to be given the chance to cast their vote within a few minutes, without having to be at a certain location. Unlike traditional voting, online voting allows citizens to cast their vote with just the need of internet connection. Based on this point, online voting also boosts citizen participation since this may be the only opportunity many citizens are given to vote. The transformation of online voting also results in less physical infrastructure since online voting eliminates resources such as paper, printing and staff, leading to lower monetary investment. Online voting is a necessary modification for meaningful representation to be achieved because if citizens observe that these political leaders are making adjustments into the system simply for them to vote, they understand that the government demands the voices of its citizens to be heard, which makes individuals certain that their vote will make a difference.
Furthermore, another alternation that can be implemented into electoral politics is making election day a national holiday. Citizens should be celebrating democracy and representatives should be doing everything within their power to make it easier for individuals to participate in the political process. Election day should be a national holiday to give everyone the time and opportunity to cast their ballot. According to statistics, “more than 60 percent of our people don’t vote, and 80 percent of young people and low-income families fail to vote as well” (Bobic, 2014). Amidst several consultations for electoral reform, the greatest voting obstruction that is unmentioned of is the conflict with voters schedules. This implication can making voting more appealing because hundreds and thousands of citizens are reported unavailable either with work or school, causing a disadvantage for them on electoral day. Election day being its own holiday is a necessary modification for meaningful representation to be achieved because citizens would observe political representatives implementing new changes simply for citizens to cast their vote, which assures citizens that their political views will be represented. The last alteration that can be implemented into electoral politics is customizing booths to cater to individuals with different needs (Ruiz, 2018).
Countless amounts of citizens are not given the opportunity to cast a ballot throughout upcoming elections because they have certain disabilities that need to be accounted for. Citizens with impairments have stated, “Poll workers often don't understand why accessibility is important. While they might see it as their duty or responsibility to complete someone's ballot, a voter with a disability can ask for assistance but is guaranteed the right to vote independently” (Heyman, 2018, quoted in Ruiz, 2018). A modification that would make voting more inclusive for impaired individuals would be to train staff members present within these poll locations so they are able to accommodate those in need by assisting them, rather than casting their ballot on whom they prefer as leader. Catering to those in need is necessary for terms of meaningful representation because voters with disabilities are now given more opportunities to cast their ballot, which shows them their electoral representative is providing several different accommodations to better suit their citizens for a greater voter turnout.