Pop Up Mock Voting Booth at the Moss Part Market
by Crystal Melin Basi, Director of Community Engagement
Over the past few Saturdays we’ve set up a Pop Up Mock Voting Booth for residents to explore and interact. Many are calling this municipal mayoral election ‘unprecedented’. It offers residents across Toronto an opportunity to tell mayoral hopefuls what change must look like in order to get their votes. Community members who frequent our Moss Park Market have diverse needs and ideas and we were happy to hear everyone’s viewpoints. Of course, there were a few individuals who did not intend on voting – too many years of disappointments and an accumulated feeling that any future mayor will not listen to their needs. Electing a mayor who can give people back hope in our democratic system makes this election even more relevant to the needs of Moss Park residents. The people of Moss Park have great ideas – from improving our market space to creating greener habitats, improving access to health and safety, and of course more affordable and supportive housing. The issue for many is that they feel their ideas are not solicited, let alone acted upon.
Many of the people we wished to engage are not eligible to vote. They are children, youth, newcomers, and refugees. Our goal is to get people comfortable with the voting process so that eventually if they choose to exercise their right to vote, they’ll feel prepared and have a fond memory of a somewhat playful attempt at voting. Instead of asking participants to select a candidate, they’re asked to select a topic that most interests them in the election. They’re shown that only one answer can be selected. They get to go behind a cardboard booth and cast their vote in a realistic voting box. We also have participants engage by writing down, ‘Why I vote’ and ‘What Matters To Me’. Not only are participants practising how to vote, but they’re also providing us with valuable feedback about what their priorities are. This small activity has shown that the community members that come to the Moss Park Market care deeply about housing, mental health supports, green spaces, and help with addiction problems. If Housing were a candidate, they would win this election. Housing was selected as the issue that matters most to them, followed by ‘Environment and Climate’.
Voting is like calling 311. It tells the City of Toronto that work needs to be done in the area and that people are doing what they can to make sure improvements are implemented. We hope Moss Park community members will exercise their rights and their voices to remind Toronto that Moss Park is worth listening to.