Some voters make statement by declining ballots
By Chad Ingram
Published May 24, 2018
There seems to be some dissatisfaction province-wide about the choices before Ontarians for the June 7 provincial election.
The more apathetic among us may choose not to vote at all, and for those wishing to make a statement, there’s always the option of spoiling one’s ballot by drawing squiggly lines across the whole thing, writing in one’s own name, or what have you.
However, there is another, more formal way, for Ontarians to essentially vote “none of the above,” and that is by declining their ballots.
Declining a ballot is done by going to one’s polling station, and, when you are handed your ballot by the election official, handing it back. You may also verbally indicate that you wish to decline your ballot.
“Ontario’s election law allows voters to decline their ballots if they do not wish to vote for any candidate,” the Elections Ontario website reads, following a search for instructions on how to decline a ballot. “This is a public process and is done out loud. The election official will mark ‘declined’ on the election documentation and your ballot will not be placed in the ballot box but in an envelope for declined ballots. Declined ballots will be counted and reported after the polls close on election night and included in the official results as ‘declined ballots.’”
Minden resident Cathy McLean discovered one could decline their ballot about a month or so ago. At the time, Haliburon-Kawartha Lakes-Brock had only two registered candidates and McLean, a lifelong voter, found herself her in a conundrum about what she was going to do.
“I’ve always voted,” McLean told the paper. “I’ve never declined at all.”
She said she found the option of declining one’s ballot a way to make a statement about lack of choice, without throwing one’s vote away.
“So you haven’t completely destroyed your chance to vote, and your voice is heard,” she said.
McLean told the paper she thought that if more people were aware of this process, they may be more inclined to make their voices heard rather than, as she had first considered, spoiling her ballot or simply staying home.
The riding now has seven candidates and McLean told the paper that now, she may end up casting a ballot for a candidate.
“There’s still a few weeks of consideration,” she said.
Nearly 32,000 Ontarians declined their ballots in the 2014 election.