Mail-in ballot system must be reviewed

Is the mail-in ballot system truly serving Ontarians in this year’s municipal election?
That question is now being debated across the province as municipal employees in almost 100 communities begin opening the return envelopes to stroke citizens’ names off the voting lists who have voted.
This time around, there appears to be a much higher rate of ballots being refused.
The reason is that voters are neglecting to enclose their signed affidavits. The numbers are serious—and the problem appears uniformly common across the province.
According to the Windsor Star, this year’s forms are a different format than previous elections.
In the Kawartha Lakes region, 20-25 percent of the ballots are being rejected because the signed declaration is not in the envelope.
Near Windsor, similar high numbers of ballots have been rejected. The city of Leamington, for instance, already had more than 200 ballots that cannot be counted.
Fort Frances Clerk Glenn Treftlin confirmed yesterday afternoon that 18.9 percent of the ballots received so far at the Civic Centre have been rejected for a variety of reasons—but the major one being that the declaration forms were not completed accurately.
That means almost one in five ballots is being refused because the paperwork had not been completed properly. If the number of voters remains the same in this election as were cast in 2003, well over 700 ballots will be discounted overall.
When the mail-in ballots were used in 2003, voting numbers increased in Fort Frances. Only 50 ballots were rejected in that election. But if the number of spoiled ballots is greater than the increase in voters, then there’s serious reason to review the system.
Unfortunately it is almost impossible to correct your mistake. One can still show up at the townhall and ask for a ballot if you did not receive one.
And if you have not already voted yet, you can drop your ballot off at the Civic Centre prior to 8 p.m. on Monday (Nov. 13).
I expect that following this election, many municipal councils across the province will review mail-in voting procedures.
On the bright side, political pundits are expecting higher turnouts for this year’s election.
The high number of candidates locally should increase voter turnout. It’s a sign there are lots of people who are bringing issues and concerns to the voters.
It is a good thing for Rainy River District.
When the votes are all tallied, and the new mayors, reeves, and councils are announced Monday night, those elected will have to begin the chore of forging working relationships with each other.
Parts of the district have seen significant personal attacks on candidates and those broken relationships will have to be mended.
This year, for the first time, mayors and councillors will hold office for a four-year term. And without a healthy mending process and respect among councillors, the next four years could be long and painful for both the councils and their communities.

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