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ELECTIONS 2010: Township residents suspicious of mail-in ballots

by David Meyer

ALMA - The mail-in ballot came under some suspicion here at the all candidates meeting on Oct. 14.

One resident said he does not like the mail-in ballot, and wanted to know who opens them, who screens them, who places them in the ballot box, and, “Why can’t I place my own ballot in the ballot box?”

Mayoral candidate John Linde was scheduled to answer first, and he said, “It saves the township work.”

Council candidate Mike Downey said he likes the old system, but he added times are changing and, “We’ve got to try stuff.” He noted the ballots will be counted by a tabulator machine.

Council candidate Wayne Burnett said he does not mind a mail-in ballot.

Council candidate Jim Curry explained how people are to fill in the ballots and put them into proper envelopes. They can then mail them or take them directly to the township office.

Council candidate Richard Brimblecombe said there is accountability, and maybe there might be a higher voter turnout. He noted in the previous election the turnout was only 17 per cent.

Mayoral candidate Richard Molenaar agreed, and said of township staff, “We have to trust them. It has worked in other townships and increased the vote by up to ten per cent.”

Council candidate Dennis Craven said the ease of voting will help older people who want to vote, and said security is 100 per cent.

“Minto used it in the last two elections and had no problems,” Craven said.

Council candidate John Slot said as long as everything is accountable, he has no objection to a mail-in ballot.

Council candidate John Schneiders said he prefers going to the polls, the old method.

Council candidate Dan McIntyre said he would prefer having more details about the procedure.

Council candidate Neil Driscoll said the mail-in ballot “might have worked in other times,” but with so many candidates, he fears many will simply vote for the top names on the list and that will be it.

“The first four, and it’s done,” he said, adding he is not necessarily concerned with voter turnout. “We might have more voters show up, and that’s my concern.”

Mayoral candidate Bruce Whale said the mail-in ballot appears to be accountable and there are “strict procedures” to follow. He added the method is “cost effective” and concluded, “We’ll see how it works.”

Township Clerk and Chief Administrative Officer Patty Sinnamon was at the meeting and was asked to explain the procedure and security.

First, she said, no one will see how anyone voted. The vote goes into the secrecy ballot while the address and name for check off does not. She said the envelopes with the ballots stay together until the end of the day and the entire pile is placed in the ballot box.

Then, on Oct. 25, the ballots are all opened and run through a tabulator to get the results.

She warned that if anyone voted for more than four council candidates, the entire ballot is rejected and considered spoiled, but people have the option of voting for one, two, three or four candidates.

Finally, she said, candidates can have scrutineers present or attend in person to watch the proceedings.

As for extra security, she said two people pick up the ballots at the post office, and two people work to separate the envelope with the vote. Ballots are placed in a safe at the township office at the end of each day and remain their until election day.

Anyone reading this is likely too late to vote by mail and should take the ballot to the township office by Oct. 25. Any ballots arriving after that will not be counted and they will be destroyed.


Vol 43 Issue 43


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