Civil society organisations launch Everyone's Vote Counts campaign to encourage voter turnout
About 30 civil society organisations unveiled the Everyone's Vote Counts website on Wednesday. The primary objective is to encourage people to participate in elections, especially now that compulsory attendance for local and provincial elections has been eliminated.
The organisations said they received "disturbing signals" when engaging in political discussions with individuals in vulnerable positions. Many of them believe that politicians are indifferent to their needs and merely serve their own interests.
Research indicates that individuals in vulnerable positions are more likely to abstain from voting when attendance is not mandatory. According to the organisations, the abolition of compulsory attendance creates a "democratic problem", as those who choose not to vote become unrepresented in policy decisions.
"People in a vulnerable position are the victims of this," says Sofie Sas, spokesperson for Everyone's Vote Counts. "These are people who are on the waiting lists for social housing or who cannot find a place in childcare."
To address this, organisations such as SAAMO, Uit De Marge, Beweging.net, Welzijnszorg and SAM have formed a collective.
"With Everyone's Vote Counts, we want to talk about politics again. Not about the intrigues and strategic games, but about solutions to problems that people face every day," the organisation says.
The aim is to raise awareness by using training packages to explain how politics has an impact on everyone's lives and to translate this to different target groups. The website contains support material for people who want to talk about politics.
"We are thinking of the chair of the local billiards club or an educator in special youth care," Sas says. “Our goal is to get as many people as possible to the polls, consciously and well informed.”
While regional, federal and European elections require voter attendance, Flanders has abolished mandatory voter turnout for local elections that will take place in October.
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