Elections are decided, to an
increasing extent, on the basis of the party leaders. It is not surprising the
method of choosing the leader is of crucial importance. Prior to 1919 the choice
of Leader was the prerogative of the parliamentary caucus. Subsequently,
Canadian parties moved to delegate conventions reflecting the democratization
of Canadian politics. But the traditional convention process itself is open to
criticism and several provincial parties including most recently Alberta and
Nova Scotia have experimented with alternate means of choosing leaders. Should
we move toward a process that gives more people a say in who is chosen Leader?
This was one of the questions considered by delegates to the 33rd Canadian
Regional Conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association held in
August 1993. Leading off the discussion were two legislators with first hand
experience in recent leadership conventions, Paul MacEwan, Speaker of the Nova
Scotia House of Assembly and Stan Schumacher, Deputy Speaker of the Alberta
Paul MacEwan (Nova Scotia): The leader of a party is
very important, much more important when you come to government than when you
are in opposition. Because of the need for legitimacy for the leader and for
the leadership selection process, those of us who belong to the Nova Scotia
Liberal Party attempted last year to formulate a new mechanism which would deal
with the new realities of politics in the 1990s. This culminated in the
selection of a new leader by telephone.
It was the first time in history
that any political party chose a new leader by a telephone technology ballot.
We were presented with an offer by the Maritime Telephone and Telegraph Company,
which provides telecommunication services in Nova Scotia. They felt that they
had the technology to enable a leadership vote to be done by telephone. The
mechanism was that each individual party member who participated would be given
a random personal identification number. They would telephone a number that was
given for the candidate of their choice, and when they heard a prerecorded
message, they would tap in their PIN number on a touch-tone telephone, after
which they would get a signal that the vote had been accepted and recorded by
way of a "Thank you for your vote" message from the candidate whom
they were choosing. That would exhaust their ability to vote unless there was a
Early in 1992, owing to an
unfortunate situation within the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia, the leader
resigned and our party was faced with a real crisis. Had the government of the
day chosen to call a provincial election then, I do not know what would have
happened. I doubt that the results would have been the same as when the
election was finally held in 1993.
We were faced with a need to do
something dramatic to revitalize the party, to achieve a high degree of party
unity from that process, to involve as many Liberals as possible, and to
attempt to ensure that the leadership race would have a legitimacy to its
verdict, which we did not feel could be achieved by an ordinary delegate
So the party executive weighed
several alternatives. We had a paper ballot system as a back-up. If the
telephone technology had not worked, we would have then gone to a paper ballot.
However, it was decided by the party executive in March, 1992 that we wanted to
have universal suffrage within the Liberal Party.
It is not possible to set up a
telephone vote mechanism that does not cost any money. This is one of the
negative aspects of the telephone voting system, because with the direct
suffrage system, as was used by the Alberta PC party, you set up polling
stations across the province and all card-carrying members who present
themselves at those polling stations get a ballot and vote right there. There
is no additional cost beyond your party membership fee. In the Nova Scotia
system, there was a delegate registration fee. It was $25 for those who wanted
to vote from home and $45 for those who wanted to come to a convention where
there would be the usual hoopla associated with conventions — meeting
candidates, hearing leadership speeches and voting.
These amounts were established to
cover the cost of setting up the system. The disadvantage to doing that was
that we did not achieve universal suffrage. We only achieved suffrage on the
part of those who could pay $25 or $45 respectively. That translated into
approximately one quarter of the registered party membership. We had 30,000
card-carrying Liberals in Nova Scotia as of the cutoff date of April 15, 1992.
The number registered to participate in this exercise after the cutoff was
about 7,000 people. The number who actually voted in the final selection
process was 6,999.
The disadvantage is obvious. Those
who cannot afford $25 or $45, or those to whom it does not appear to be a
sufficient priority, will not participate. I regret the disincentive to those
who lack the means to afford that fee to participate.
I suppose too, there could be
potential for abuse here in purchasing personal identification numbers on the
part of people who do not have the $25 themselves, but would allow somebody
else to buy a number for them. To guard against that kind of abuse, the PIN
numbers were mailed individually to the individual party members. We felt it
would be very difficult to set up a vote-buying scheme on a large basis,
because whoever did so would have to visit all these people individually, pick
up their PIN numbers and attempt to cast a vote for them on a telephone. One
individual whom you may have heard of, claimed to have actually done that.
However, he claimed to have done it on behalf of a relatively small number of
people as compared to the total number of voters.
When we decided to go with the
system we found that it did not work the first time. Telephone lines were
jammed. The Maritime Telephone and Telegraph Company was appalled because they
felt the technology would work. However, it was apparently insufficiently
developed to handle the tremendous load that came in at one time. Rather than
giving up on that system, we tried it again two weeks later. On the second
attempt it worked. The voting was scheduled over longer periods of time. There
were four hours provided for the first ballot and another four-hour window for
the second ballot. The technology worked and the new leader was selected. He is
now the Premier of Nova Scotia, John Savage, elected on the basis of the
broadest leadership selection process that had ever taken place in the history
of Nova Scotia. The Liberal Party is proud of that achievement and hopes that
other parties will follow in the same path, whether it be by a telephone-vote
selection process or by paper ballot with polling stations for individual party
members. That is a choice that individual parties will have to make.
Whenever you are developing a new
way of doing things, you have to iron out the creases as you go along.
Possibly there could be
improvements made yet. Here were the steps which we took in Nova Scotia. The
voting for the leader was on June 6. The rules, as laid down by the party
executive, stated you had to be a member in good standing of the Nova Scotia
Liberal Party as of April 15 to participate, which was six weeks prior to the
selection process. We had approximately 30,000 Nova Scotians who were members
in good standing as of April 15. To be a member in good standing of the Nova
Scotia Liberal Party, you must have paid a $5 annual membership fee and signed
a form giving your particulars and stating that you wish to become a member of
the Liberal Party or that you wish to continue as a member of the Liberal
Party. We do not yet have that stipulation that you must sign that you are not
a member or a supporter of any other party, a stipulation which should be there
and I believe will be there in the near future. That is one improvement we have
to make. You did have to be a member six weeks before the voting.
Then there was a window of 30 days
from April 15 to May 15 within which the member would register to participate
in the leadership selection process and pay a fee of $25 or $45 as the case may
be. We felt that the registration fee and the advance cut-off date were there
as safeguards to prevent "instant Liberals" from showing up on election
day and buying pin numbers. It is a concern and I think a very legitimate one
that any party moving in this direction would have to watch carefully.
Increasingly, in this day of
accountability, of the new politics, of mass participation and mass alienation
from the political process, we have to do go in this direction. The old model
of the delegate convention where a small number of people chose a leader that
would lead a province or a nation will be increasingly out of touch with
political reality as we advance into the twenty-first century.
Stan Schumacher (Alberta): The evolution of the leadership selection
process can be divided into three phases. The first phase was in the early
post-Confederation period. The selection of national party leaders was modelled
after British practices. The retiring leader, in consultation with senior party
notables, caucus members and, most crucially, with the Governor General,
selected the new leader. The formal selection of the Prime Minister, and
consequently the Leader of the governing party, was seen as the prerogative of
the Governor General.
Eighteen ninety-six is an important
year in Canadian party politics. Lord Aberdeen, the Governor General at the
time, resisted pressures from the Conservative Party to have Sir Charles Tupper
replace Sir Mackenzie Bowell as leader. However, as a result of the
Conservative Party's persistence in its support for Tupper, Lord Aberdeen
eventually agreed to appoint him Prime Minister. For the first time in Canadian
history, "The governing party asserted with some success a claim to choose
its own leader independent of Vice-Regal wishes".
Moreover, the role of the
parliamentary caucus in leadership selection increased significantly when the
Liberal Party was in opposition. Following that party's defeat in the 1878
election, Liberal MPs pressured Alexander Mackenzie to resign. Mackenzie did
so, and the caucus voted in Edward Blake as his successor.
The second phase of the leadership
selection process began with the election of Mackenzie King as Liberal leader
at a national party convention in 1919. For the first time, the
extra-parliamentary wing of a national party played a pivotal role in the
selection of a leader. The move to a national leadership convention was partly
a response by the party establishment to the deep divisions that had developed
within the Liberal Party following the conscription crisis of the First World
War. Sir Wilfrid Laurier was able to convince the party that a national
convention attended by delegates from across the country would be the best
forum for selecting a new leader who would keep the party united.
In 1927, the Conservative Party
held a national delegate convention to elect Richard Bedford Bennett as leader.
Since then, national conventions have been used to select national party
leaders. The only exception is Arthur Meighen, who took over the Conservative
Party leadership briefly in 1942.
The national convention was adopted
to ensure that the party's extra-parliamentary wing had greater participation
in important party activities, to make the internal party organization more
democratic and to offset the regional weaknesses of party caucuses. The
adoption of national conventions also altered the relationship between the
party leader and the parliamentary caucus. As a result of being elected by a
large number of party delegates representing the various constituent parts of
the party and regions of the country, the leader was elevated to a status
shared by no other member of the party. Only the national party leader could
claim to have been selected by a national constituency.
The move to having national
leadership conventions as television events represented a third phase in the
evolution of leadership politics. The 1967 Progressive Conservative convention,
which saw the election of Robert Stanfield as leader, was the first to be
nationally televised. As a result of changes in modern communication
techniques, party leaders became the medium through which party policies and
ideas were conveyed to the electorate. Leaders became public persuaders and
assumed greater responsibility for mobilizing support for their parties.
The increase in the number of
delegates attending national leadership conventions has not necessarily been
accompanied by a balanced representation from the different socio-demographic
The increased prominence of
leadership conventions in Canadian politics has been accompanied by changes in
the competitive nature of leadership campaigns. "The critical factor in
this change has been the growth in the size of conventions and the broadening
of the base of participation in delegate selection."
Elaborate constituency mobilization
and organization techniques have become critical to effective leadership
campaigns. Indeed, leadership campaign organizations have become highly
professional and sophisticated. This sophisticated approach to leader selection
has been accompanied by intense media scrutiny and coverage. Major leadership
aspirants receive considerable prime-time broadcast coverage, and their
leadership qualities and policy ideas are assessed in detail in the print
media. The media also give equal attention to the tactics and methods of
Recent leadership conventions have become
highly controversial on two fronts. First, the practice by campaign
organizations or special interest groups of paying party membership fees to
recruit instant party members who help elect sympathetic delegates or slates of
delegates has undermined the integrity of the leadership selection process.
The second controversial dimension
of the selection process is the cost and financing of recent leadership
campaigns. Large sums of money and resources are now needed by the campaign
organizations for leadership contestants to mobilize support and to ensure the
selection of delegates.
With the increased need for large
sums of money, partial public funding, via the tax credit, has become
commonplace and a source of controversy. Concern has been expressed that it is
inappropriate for public funding to be used for leadership campaigns without
implementing financial disclosure and accountability rules that match those in
the Canada Elections Act on election campaigns and party financing. The use of
a tax credit system introduces a clear public dimension to the process by
enabling leadership contestants to raise funds from a broader base of party
members and, in turn, may lower barriers for those who do not have access to
It should be pointed out that
although the federal Conservatives and the provincial Liberal Party in Alberta
utilize the tax credit system for their leadership selection, the constitution
of the Alberta Conservatives prohibits such practice.
Several provincial parties have responded
to public criticism by selecting their leaders through direct election by all
party members in good standing. Leaders of the Parti Québécois were elected
through direct elections in 1985 and 1987, as were leaders of the provincial
Progressive Conservatives in Prince Edward Island in 1987 and in Ontario in
1990. The Liberal Party of Canada at its 1990 national convention adopted a
policy resolution that supported the direct election of its next leader.
In Alberta, the Conservative Party
leader, Premier Ralph Klein, was elected through a direct election process in
December of 1992. Amendments to the Alberta Conservative Party constitution
were adopted in April of 1991 at our annual convention.
The events that led to the adoption
of a direct election process may be traced back to the 1985 leadership
convention. It included 16 categories of delegates among them the party
executive, federal MPs, provincial MLAs, women and youth. The total number of
non elected or ex officio delegates accounted for 17.5 per cent of the
total delegate pool. Each constituency was entitled to 20 delegates. The 79
constituencies that existed at the time produced 1580 new delegates, or 82.5
per cent of the total. Given the numerical importance of constituency
delegates, the leadership campaign tended to focus on the contest for these
At the time, the various leadership
campaigns encouraged the use of slates of nominees for delegate positions, a
provision consistent with the emerging pattern of selecting national party
In Alberta, the adoption of a
direct election format has had a dramatic and rejuvenating effect on the
Progressive Conservative Party.
Of the constituency delegates,
almost 65 ran as part of a slate. The use of candidate slates in and of itself
is not necessarily a practice that elicits strong negative reactions; however,
the issue became controversial at the 1985 convention when the policy was
combined with a rule that allowed individuals to purchase a party membership
with full voting privileges right up to the time of the delegate selection
meeting. The intent was to create a more open party.
Unfortunately, the use of slates
with a late cut-off date had a negative effect on the portrayal of the campaign
in the media. In the urban centres, busloads of "instant Tories"
shuttled back and forth between the ethnic-community association halls and the
delegate selection meetings. None of the candidates could refuse to take part
because the use of slates meant that, in most of these constituencies, it was a
"winner take all" contest. If a candidate did not recruit large
numbers of new party-members, he or she would be shut out of the delegate pool
selected from that constituency. Consequently, the process of leadership
selection itself became the most important issue in that leadership campaign.
The Getty campaign victory of 1985
demonstrated that the character of these battles and their scrutiny by the
media can threaten the legitimacy of a new leader's claim to respect and
authority. That served as an important lesson, one that has not been forgotten.
Indeed, it was Don Getty who initiated an examination of the leadership
selection process after the 1985 convention.
In the 1985 leadership convention,
2,000 members participated as delegates and 63,500 memberships were purchased.
In contrast, in the 1992 leadership contest, over 52,000 votes were cast in the
first ballot and over 78,000 in the second ballot one week later. In total,
120,000 memberships were purchased, in stark contrast to the 12,000 memberships
sold to the Conservatives in Ontario.
Unlike the Ontario Conservative
Party, which set a cut-off date almost two full months prior to the election
date, Alberta party memberships could be purchased up to the date of the second
ballot. In fact, they could be purchased right in the polling place. In
Alberta, almost 30,000 memberships were purchased between the first and second
ballot which was one week apart.
One party official with whom I
spoke pointed out that memberships sold between the first and second ballots
represented the parties's profit margin of $150,000 on the exercise.
More important, the 120,000 party
memberships sold is the highest number in Canadian history. Moreover, the
leadership race in Alberta was indeed a race. On the first ballot, only one
vote separated the first and second place candidates. Ralph Klein went on to a
landslide victory by a margin of almost 15,000 votes on the second ballot.
In Alberta, the direct election of
the leader created genuine excitement and prominent media coverage. More
important, any system of leadership selection should, at minimum, attempt to
achieve the following:
Open up the selection process at
the riding level in order to give as many party members as feasible a direct
say in the selection of party leader;
Attract more people to the party;
Make selection processes as fair, comprehensible, and accessible as
Codify the selection rules so as to allow for certainty without being
Construct a process which is financially feasible for the leadership
candidate, the party, and the party membership.
Clearly, the process of leadership
selection is still evolving, and, although it looks as if Canadian parties are moving
towards the adoption of a direct leadership election, the costs and benefits of
doing so are not always obvious. Nonetheless, it is evident that the direct
election of a leader is the way of the future and represents a commitment to
the ideal of democratization which effectively diminishes the power of the
so-called establishment. It is truly the politics of inclusion put into
Tony Whitford (Northwest Territories): In the Northwest
Territories we have a unique method of choosing the leader. It does not have
the hype that Alberta had with its leadership convention or the national
leadership convention a few months ago. It does not have the same costs.
In the territories every four years
we have a general election and the people select 24 candidates, one from each
of the ridings. Those elected people meet in Yellowknife as soon as possible.
At the time they arrive they are all elected members, there is no leader or
government. We do not have a party system. We have consensus government. The first
order of business is to select a Speaker while meeting in caucus. Soon
thereafter we select a leader. That is done through a process of submitting
names. Perhaps people will lobby in advance, but in the end the 24 members will
vote for someone to become leader. After that, the rest of the members will
select seven more people to be the government.
Following the 1991 election, this
process went public for the first time. It was done in the chamber rather than
in the caucus room, as had been done on at least two occasions in the past. It
was done because of the need and demand by the public to have accountability
and to see how things were done. The people of the territories said that they
wanted it done this way and the members responded. Many of the things that were
once done in private are now down publicly. Prior to that time, it was
something like selecting a Pope. People watched the chimney and if white smoke
came out, we knew we had a leader. In this case the people were aware of who
was running and what was said by the leadership candidates. In a nutshell that
is the method that we have used for at least three general elections.
Gary Farrell-Collins (British Columbia): We are currently going
through a leadership process in the Liberal party in British Columbia. When it
becomes obvious that a leader no longer has the confidence of a caucus and no
longer has the confidence of those people that he or she is supposed to work
very closely with, it also becomes obvious to the party that something has to
happen. Indeed, that is what has taken place in our province. We are currently
going through a leadership campaign that was brought about as a direct result
of the actions of the caucus members.
I believe the caucus can act to
rectify a problem, even if that problem is not seen as a public problem or is
not seen publicly. The caucus can make itself heard and the party can still
play its role in choosing the leader. I think it is important that we allow the
party members to have that right, that we allow the party members to choose the
leader of their party. I do not believe that it should be the product strictly
of an elected caucus, because as we have often seen, and as we know in this
country, the caucus is not always representative of the party itself. I think
that is an extremely important provision to take into account.
We are also going the way of the
tele-vote, as the Nova Scotia Liberals did. I think that was a very positive
process. At a time when the general public is as detached from politics and
politicians as they are now, I believe it is incumbent upon politicians and
party members to try to encourage people to become involved in the process as
much as possible. It seems that one of the most exciting things that the public
finds in politics is the selection of a leader. They tend to watch leadership
conventions on television closely. They tend to find them exciting and dynamic.
I think the route we are taking,
following in the footsteps of the Nova Scotia Liberals, is a positive one. It
has attracted a wide number of new members to our party from all over the
Given our terrain, one of the
disadvantages that we have in a province the size of British Columbia is that
it is very difficult to get people to 75 constituency polling stations to vote
in the party process on election day. The advantage of the tele-vote system is
that people will be able to have what I call Grey Cup parties at their homes or
within their ridings and individual communities and vote by phone.
In addition, it is extremely
expensive to fly from the northern to the southern part of the Province of
British Columbia. It is virtually impossible to drive the distance in any
reasonable length of time, and the train is not an option either. It is very
difficult to get to the Lower Mainland to vote. This method allows many more
people to participate in the process at a cost of about $18, as opposed to a
cost of $500 to $1,000 to attend a delegate convention.
We went through a lengthy battle at
our convention to amend the constitution of our party to allow for this system.
All these issues were brought up and discussed, sometimes in a heated manner. I
think the party has been brave. It has taken this step, which we hope works. We
are looking forward to a successful convention.
Len Simms: (Newfoundland) I happen to be the leader
of a provincial party and I thought perhaps the delegates would be interested
to hear some comments from that perspective. First, I hate the American process
for selecting a leader. I am not very fussy about the U.K. process either. In
fact, if that process had been tried in any of the caucuses in which I have
been involved over the last 14 years, I doubt very much if we would have ever
selected a leader, particularly in the caucus that we have now in opposition.
It all boils down to practicality.
The issues that you have to consider as a party are the costs associated with
it and whether you can afford it, or whether you can somehow turn it into a
fundraising venture, like Nova Scotia and Alberta did. You have to consider
timing. If you are close to an election, I think the convention process is
probably the best. People tend to watch the convention process. If, however,
you are two or three years away from an election, I am afraid the public will
never remember in three years how you selected your leader. All those factors
have to be considered.
In Newfoundland, we in the
Conservative Party observed what happened in Nova Scotia. We were impressed
with the idea at the beginning, but a bit shaken after the first try was
unsuccessful. We kind of enjoyed the Alberta process. It looked pretty good,
but then we were not quite sure how it would end up. We had to wait awhile for
another ballot. Those processes, as is the case with the normal leadership
convention process with which we are all familiar, are flawed.
Let us be frank. If you are a half
decent candidate, you will make sure that people will be out buying PIN numbers
for your delegates. You will be buying membership cards for your delegates if
you are in Alberta. Or, if you are having a leadership convention, you will be
stacking the halls to get your delegates elected to go to the convention.
It all boils down to your personal
preference. I do not think that Nova Scotia, Alberta or Newfoundland can tell
the other provinces the best way to go. You can only share your experiences.
What was done in Nova Scotia and Alberta has offered us other options for
selecting leaders, particularly those of us at the provincial level.
I have had the privilege of having
run in two leadership races. One was a few years ago when the prize was the
office of premier and my party formed the government. We had access to lots of
money then. That convention was a great one. Unfortunately, I lost, but I am
still around. As a matter of fact, the person who beat me is no longer around.
The best process was the one I
encountered the second time I ran for leader. That was the most successful and
least expensive process, not only for me personally but for our party at that
point in time because we had formed the opposition. That was the process that
selected its present leader, the one who is now speaking. It was by
acclamation, a process that I recommend to anyone!
Eric Cline (Saskatchewan): The panelists have given a
very interesting description of the party-wide convention process. They have
talked about the cost to the delegates, however, they have not addressed the
overall cost of a campaign which is designed to appeal to the public. The
cautionary note which I want to express is that we can go from the traditional
parliamentary caucus system of selecting a leader, which would be the cheapest
— I suppose there is very little cost to the British Conservative Party in its
system — or we can go to the other extreme; the U.S. primary system which
selects a leader or a candidate for governor or senator.
One of the really shocking things
about the American political system is that Congress members spend a lot of
their time in the United States trying to raise millions of dollars which are
necessary for them to compete in the primary system. I would argue that their
system, although it theoretically involves the public at large, actually has an
element which I find objectionable and that is the very big money and control
by monied interests in the United States.
In contrast to the argument put
forward here that broadening the system would mean greater accountability to
the public and greater participation, I would argue that, if you look at the
American system which, in theory, has the most participation, it also has the
most control by big-money powerful interests and involves fewer people than in
Canada. If you look at the participation rate in the political system in the
United States, as we all know, it is not what we have enjoyed in Canada. I do
not see any evidence that this system results in greater accountability to the
I would join then with those who
would question, without concluding, that this supposed expansion of democracy
that we hear about would necessarily be more democratic and would not have some
drawbacks which perhaps we do not have in our system which, on balance, is not
a bad system.
Doreen Hamilton (Saskatchewan): I think we are seeing a
pendulum swinging away from a caucus or a limited number of people being
involved in the choosing of a leader to a more populist deliberation when we
are talking about all members come hither or yon. I would argue that, even with
the spending limitation, that limits the ability to get a message out as well.
With the kind of move toward telecommunications
and the touchtone telephone and so on, a 10-second clip becomes very important.
The look and perhaps the personality, without much substance, has greater role
to play. The swell of party membership, which we saw at its worst in Saskatchewan,
reminds me of a pizza party generation when you instantly become a member and,
in busloads, are hauled off to a nomination process. It is not necessarily
telling our next generation that they should become involved, knowledgeable and
informed. Democracy has a responsibility of people being informed in casting
their ballots as well.
We have to look at the old ways and
maybe reform them or update the process. There are some parts of the grassroots
process which should be retained and cherished.
If all we are trying to do is allow
more people into the process, then do we not run the risk of running popularity
contests at best? Or at worst, something which is manipulated? We can round up
"x" number of thousands of individuals who will vote on this
particular occasion but they have no long-term abiding interest in your party
and, in fact, may show up on someone else's roles.
Indeed, in some states in the
United States you can register both as a Republican and as a Democrat. Lots of
people do that in order to cast their ballot for the leader of their choice for
each party, not having any particular regard to philosophy or policies or
anything else. It is simply part of the popularity contest.
In the long run, is that in a sense
any better than what the Conservative Party in Great Britain is doing where one
could argue that the group who made the selection is an informed group? That is
the group who has worked most closely with the leader of the party and the
Prime Minister and that is an informed group. Whether or not they made a good
choice is not for me to decide. They certainly were an informed group and they
were not instant members.
We seem to be leaning the other way
and saying that every person who wants to vote, can vote. It does not matter whether
they believe in the party or the policies. In fact, after you finish voting for
this party, next year, if there is a leadership race for another party, you can
get involved with them as well.
I am a little cautious about that.
I am not saying that we should adopt the policy that says only caucus members
choose. However, I do think that, if there is a rush towards allowing everyone
to be involved, we have to be a bit cautious about who it is who actually has
the privilege of voting. It is a privilege. If you are going to be involved in
selecting the leader of your party, I hope you have some abiding interest in
that party, in its policies, its philosophy, and what the long-term effects are
of your voting.