Photo: Skimel on wikimedia
Readers have asked The Current about the voting process in the Township of Madawaska Valley. The municipality’s website says that “any person who on Voting Day (October 22) meets the following qualifications is eligible to vote:
- Is a Canadian Citizen;
- Is at least 18 years old on Voting Day;
- Resides in the municipality or is the owner, tenant, or spouse of the owner or tenant of land;
- Any person not prohibited, by law from voting.”
The Current provides additional information below to help voters understand the process.
What is Vote by Mail?
The Township of Madawaska Valley uses a Vote By Mail system, unlike other municipalities; for example, Whitewater Region offers telephone and internet voting as well as a paper ballot. This means you can still vote even if you cannot attend in person on Voting Day. Vote By Mail ballots are sent out starting Monday September 17 and it is your responsibility to ensure your completed ballot is returned by close of poll on October 22. You can:
- drop off your ballot in person at the Township Office during business hours up to October 19;
- return it by mail; or,
- bring it in person to the Township Office between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. on October 22.
The By-Law suggests that if you plan to return your ballot by Canada Post you should mail it by no later than October 14, 2018. (See link below to read the By-Law.)
Can I vote at home AND at the cottage?
Readers who own cottage properties in the Township of Madawaska Valley have asked The Current if they are eligible to vote here as well as in the municipality where they have their principal home. We checked out the Voter Eligibility section of Municipal Affairs’ 2018 Voters Guide. (Link given below.) The short answer is Yes — but you should always check with your municipal Returning Officer if you have questions. The examples in this section illustrate how you could vote in more than one municipality.
There are three ways to be eligible to vote in a municipal election in Ontario.
- The most common way is to be a resident elector, which means that you live in a municipality. You don’t have to own property there; you can rent or live rent-free.
- If you own property in another municipality, you can be a non-resident elector in that municipality. For example, say your home is in Kitchener where you rent an apartment and you also own a cottage in Madawaska Valley. You would be a resident elector in Kitchener where your full-time home is located PLUS you would be a non-resident elector in Madawaska Valley where your cottage is located.
- Your spouse would also qualify as a resident elector in Kitchener and as a non-resident elector in Madawaska Valley.
Also there are special rules for Students living away from home to attend school. They can vote in their home municipality PLUS they can vote in the municipality where they attend school.
How many municipalities can I vote in?
You can vote in every municipality where you are a resident and a non-resident elector. For example, if you live in Toronto, have a cottage in Madawaska Valley and a hunt camp up north somewhere, you would be eligible to vote in all three municipalities. Exceptions: The exception is if two or more of those municipalities are within the same region. (In this case, “region” is an official region; e.g. Peel, York, etc.) Note: There are special rules if you have property in municipalities using the ward voting system.
What if I don’t receive a Vote by Mail ballot in September?
If your Vote By Mail kit doesn’t arrive shortly after September 17, visit the Township Office or call 613-756-2747 to speak with the Returning Officer or designate to complete an application form for a replacement Vote By Mail ballot. If you ask early enough you may still have time to return the replacement ballot by mail. The Current has also learned that the municipality provides some blank ballots for eligible voters to use who attend in person on Voting Day. For example, in 2014 more than 400 voters were added to the list on Voting Day. However, CAO/Clerk Suzanne Klatt told The Current that there is a limit to how many blank ballots they can print. You will have to allow extra time and bring ID if you wait until Voting Day to get a ballot, so she recommends you take action as soon as possible to ensure you can vote.
Follow instructions carefully and remember your Declaration Form
The Vote By Mail kit contains detailed instructions which you must read and follow carefully. For example, each voter must return a signed Declaration Form with a Vote By Mail ballot. If you deliver your ballot in person and realize you forgot the Declaration Form, the Township will have some blank declaration forms available.
Can I vote strategically?
Some people have asked The Current if they MUST select one mayoral candidate and four candidates for councillor. The answer is No — you may vote only for those candidates you prefer. For example, if you select just one or two names on the ballot, it does not mean that your ballot is spoiled.