Election sees better turnout than in 2000

Maybe it was a perceived need for a change, maybe the electorate had their voting pencils still warmed up after the provincial election, or maybe it was another reason completely.
Whatever the case, voter response to Monday’s municipal election here was something of a victory in itself, town clerk Glenn Treftlin said Tuesday.
“We got just under 60 percent turnout. It was about 49 percent last time,” he remarked.
While Treftlin won’t declare the final totals official until tomorrow (Nov. 13), the numbers Monday rolled in at 3,654 votes cast—almost 300 more than were cast in the last election in 2000 (3,381).
The total number of eligible voters in Fort Frances this election was 6,700.
As of 10 a.m. Monday, the total number of returned ballots was 3,625, meaning 29 more votes were cast at the polling station at the Civic Centre prior to the counting process getting started after 8 p.m.
Treftlin noted only “a handful” of ballots ended up being spoiled this time, compared to the 48 three years ago.
He said he considered the mail-in ballot system to be a resounding success, noting most of the votes arrived via the mail as opposed to the 2000 election, where 2,333 of the ballots came that way while the balance of 1,048 were dropped off in person.
The 2000 election marked first time this system was used here.
As to whether it will be the way to go again in 2006, Treftlin said, “It’s council’s decision, but I’m certainly going to recommend it.”
Treftlin noted election day itself saw few snags, although the ballot counting did take a while—with the first set of numbers not being posted until after 9 p.m.
Treftlin said the process of pre-opening the secrecy envelopes, where he and two other election staffers spent more than three hours opening envelopes so the counters could quickly withdraw the ballots and read them, took longer than expected.
“So the counting didn’t start until 20 minutes late,” he remarked. “There also was more on the ballot that we had in the last election.
“And although we had 11 counting stations, some of the volunteers were new to the process. They had training, but it still took a while to get going for some of them,” continued Treftlin.
“But I’ve got to hand it to the counters for what they did,” he stressed. “They were volunteers, remember, they didn’t get paid. They did a great job.”
While the fifth and final set of unofficial numbers weren’t posted until 12:45 a.m. on Tuesday, noted Treftlin, this still was better than in 2000 when election staff worked until 2 a.m.
A board displaying the election results will be up at the Civic Centre for public viewing until the end of the week.