Many ballots being rejected because voters fail to sign form

With five days to go before the votes are tallied, just over 2,700 ballots had been returned to the town as of late yesterday.
But like other municipalities in the province using the mail-in ballot system, too many have come back without the signed declaration form and the town wants that to change, returning officer and clerk Glenn Treftlin said Monday night.
If any eligible voter believes they sent in their ballot without the signed declaration form, they should contact the town to get a new voting kit, he noted.
However, those who do so must produce the voter declaration form they originally had failed to include with their original ballot as proof they even received a kit in the first place.
As for those who have not filled out their ballot yet, be sure to carefully read the instructions included in your voting kit before doing so.
Sources told the Times yesterday that more than 18 percent of the returned ballots—or almost one in five—had been rejected so far.
Dryden and Kenora also are using the same mail-in voting system as Fort Frances, and are experiencing problems to some degree.
Dryden clerk and returning officer Colleen Brosseau said roughly 20 percent of the ballots that have come in there have been rejected due to the fact they did not include signed declaration forms.
“We’re allowing people that think the may have incorrectly filled it out to attend our office, take a declaration, and receive a replacement kit,” she noted.
Brosseau added the city has been trying to get the word out about filling out ballots correctly and signing the voter declaration forms, and as such, is starting to see more people inquiring and checking the voters’ list.
She added the 20 percent rejection figure only applies to ballots received so far, and is hopeful that will change as more people are aware of the voting instructions.
“Read the directions very carefully is what we’re telling people,” stressed Brosseau.
Kenora clerk Joanne McMillin said she saw maybe 100 ballots that had to be rejected early on, but has since seen the problem curbed as the city has advertised to hammer home the message to the public to carefully read their voting instructions.
“We have it on all the media, and people are realizing it. It’s working well,” she noted.
McMillin said the problem is that voters aren’t signing declarations when they send in their ballots.
But she noted the only difference between the ballots used this time and in 2003 is that the declaration form is on the back of a page as opposed to the front.
In related news, about 300 mail-in ballot packages have been returned to the Civic Centre here because they were mailed out to voters who did not check the voters’ list and were sent to a wrong address.
If any eligible voters have not yet got their kit in the mail, they should check in with the town, where they can fill out a form to correct that information and receive a voting kit.
Election staff have been working since Friday, opening the yellow envelopes to check and see if they contained voter declarations forms. Those that do have had the corresponding voters’ names marked off the voters’ list while those that don’t have been rejected.
But the white ballot envelopes (or “secrecy envelopes”) will not be opened until Monday, at which time the ballots will be electronically tabulated.
Those voters who have not yet mailed or personally dropped off their ballots can bring them to the Civic Centre up until 8 p.m. on Monday. There will be staff on hand to accept ballots during business hours each day, or you can put them in the drop slot at the main door after hours.
While the rest of the services at the Civic Centre will be closed this Friday (Nov. 10) to observe Remembrance Day, it will remain open for voting purposes.