As published in The Erin Advocate
Voter turnout for the last two municipal elections has been pretty good – 40% in 2006 and 41% in 2010 – but with some major issues on the table and a simple mail-in ballot system, we should have even more participation this year.
The election is October 27. Voting kits will be mailed out to registered voters on September 26. Then you have a choice: mail the postage-paid voting kit back by October 18, or bring it in person to the Town Office at 5684 Trafalgar Rd. by election day.
Sealed kits can be delivered to the Town at any time of the day or night and you do not have to show identification. After hours, the entranceway is sealed off and voting kits can be dropped through the mail slot. You can also wait until election day to deliver your kit – the deadline is 8 pm.
The election page on the Town website (www.erin.ca) has the names of all the candidates, with their addresses, phone numbers and email addresses.
It also has an instructional video describing the voting process. Your kit will contain four items: a ballot, a declaration form with instructions, a ballot secrecy envelope and a mailing envelope.
Sign the form to attest that you are an eligible voter. Tear off the form and put it in the mailing envelope (but don’t seal it yet). Make your choices on the ballot. Put the ballot into the secrecy envelope and seal it. Put the secrecy envelope into the mailing envelope, making sure the municipal address is visible, and seal it. Mail it by October 18 or deliver it to the Town Office by October 27.
Sounds relatively simple, but the several steps and the change from tradition did cause confusion when the mail-in system started. In 2006, more than 10% of Erin voters failed to complete the proper steps and their ballots could not be processed, but it was much better in 2010.
If you mail the kit after October 18, the ballots are still valid if they get to the Town Office by 8 pm on October 27. Every election, a few people drop the kit in the mail the day before, significantly reducing their chances of having their vote counted.
Property owners and established residents should already be on the List of Electors, but if you have moved to the area in recent years or are uncertain, contact Town Clerk Dina Lundy at 519-855-4407 ext. 233.
The Town website has the forms to fill out if you want to be added to the list (or removed) or change your information. It also has a form to challenge the right of another person to be on the list, which will require a hearing with both parties.
If you are entitled to vote and don’t have a kit, go to the Town Office with some identification showing your address during office hours (8:30 am to 4:30 pm) or 10 am to 8 pm on election day. You can sign a declaration and receive your voting kit immediately. You can fill out the ballot and submit the kit immediately, or take it home and return it later.
Voting kits are customized to your status on the List of Electors. If you are a separate school supporter or have French language rights, only the school trustee candidates you are entitled to elect will be shown on your ballot. The four types of trustees are English Public, English Separate, French Public and French Separate.
All electors can vote for one Mayor, one Wellington County Councillor and a maximum of four Town Councillors. You are allowed to leave any section of the ballot blank and to vote for less than the maximum number of Town Councillors. If you vote for more than the maximum, that section of the ballot only will be invalid.
One scrutineer may be present for each candidate at any one time in the secure counting place. They may object to a ballot, but the returning officer has the final say on its validity.
On election night, the public is welcome to assemble in the council chambers after 8 pm to await the results.