Viewpoint: Let’s Make Every Vote Count
By ANTHONY A. KENNEDY
SSI Returning Officer
I like having people vote.
In my periodic role in elections and referenda on Salt Spring Island, I regret each spoiled ballot that cannot be counted.
Recent elections using mail-in ballots have attracted far more votes than in-person voting. Unfortunately, while the proportion of valid votes was much higher, many ballots were spoiled.
The instructions in the “Notice of Referendum on Construction of a New Main Fire Hall” published separately in the Driftwood and on the Salt Spring Exchange are now complete. The intention of this article is to amplify the instructions given in that notice and the mail-in ballot package.
Ballots were mailed to all eligible voters on June 1. Post office staff shortages may delay some mail deliveries.
Property owners within the Salt Spring Island Fire Protection District (SSIFPD) who do not receive a ballot in the mail by June 15 can collect a ballot from the Ganges fire hall during office hours, which are Monday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Despite every effort to ensure the list of eligible voters is complete, there are always a few errors and omissions. When a voter provides documentation showing land ownership, revisions to the voters list can easily be made at the Ganges fire hall and a ballot issued.
Tips on how to make your vote count:
• By following the instructions and completing the ballot package completely and correctly, you will not spoil your ballot. Please be sure to include the name and signature of a witness on the Certification Envelope “B.”
• You can return your ballot by mail using the stamped return envelope, or deliver it in person to the Ganges fire hall before 4 p.m. on June 30, during the above office hours. There, a locked, secure ballot box is under the independent control of the Deputy Returning Officer.
• If for any reason you spoil your ballot, visit the Ganges fire hall during office hours, where a fresh ballot will be exchanged for the spoiled ballot.
• Only property owners within the Salt Spring Island Fire Protection District are eligible to vote in the referendum. Renters are not eligible.
• Each corporation that owns property may cast one vote by designating an individual as their agent to vote. This must be done in writing. Corporate letterhead is helpful.
• Property owners can only vote once, no matter how many pieces of property they may own.
• If private property is jointly owned by two or more individuals, each is eligible to vote. Every joint or sole owner on the list of voters should receive a ballot package by mail. If property is jointly owned but all owners do not appear on the voters list, the list can easily be amended at the fire hall based on a person showing legal documentation of ownership.
• Ballots can be marked with either an “X” or a “tick mark” in the box provided. Both are illustrated in the ballot instructions. Any other marks will spoil the ballot. The objective is to maintain ballot secrecy by avoiding marking a ballot in a way that could be identified with an individual.