Thursday, January 08, 2009

So....It IS Possible!

I remember one time back in grade school asking a teacher what would happen, if during an election, two candidates ended up tying. What would happen then? I remember being introduced to the concept of a by election but, I was assured, ties never happen, so really it was all just academic. I suppose I can't fault my old teacher too much. After all, elections usually involve such a large number of voters that the odds of a tie are probably akin to my odds of fighting off a polar bear armed merely with a rusty spoon and a stick of butter.

As I discovered earlier this evening, when you have a smaller population and hence a smaller number of constituents heading to the polls in a place like Nunavut, ties following an election are possible. Truth be told, I'm surprised this doesn't happen a bit more often. Typically, in many Nunavut ridings, only 400-500 votes might be cast, and because we don't have political parties (in the consensus-style of government employed here) almost anyone can run for a seat, so it's entirely possible to have 5,6,7 or more people battling it out for those 500 votes. In the recent territorial election the incumbent in my riding was defeated by a mere 8 votes if I recall. In the riding where I lived a few years ago, the differential was something like 6 votes.

So what does this all mean? Maybe I outsmarted my old teacher, even if it wasn't really done with a great deal of intention. As far as a full slate of MLA's meeting when the Legislature reconvenes later this month though, yes, it will mean a delay in filling the one vacant Cabinet position left open pending the result of the (to be announced) by election. Democratically, what does this mean? Does it mean people can't make up their minds? I don't really think so. If anything, it's an indication of just how much power the voter has, which, in a democracy, is a good thing.