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Spotty voters’ list, possible postal disruption complicate election

by Suzanne Gammon

The West Nipissing municipal election has hit a bit of a snag, but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a little proactive effort by affected electors. According to candidates doing door-to-door campaigning, there are many, many residents not registered on the voters’ list. While the deadline to register to get a ballot in the mail was September 21, it’s not too late to vote if you missed that mark – you will simply have to do so in person at town hall, anytime until October 22.

WN Deputy Clerk Janice Dupuis explains that the voters’ list is provided by MPAC (Municipal Property Assessment Corporation), which updates only changes in home ownership automatically. Tenancy changes must be reported by landlords, and Municipal Clerk Melanie Ducharme says “I would say less than 5% of landlords report” those changes. Of course, renters can register themselves, but with no mayoral race since 2006, there has been little motivation to do so.

 “The last two elections, the mayor’s position was acclaimed so many people didn’t bother to register,” notes Dupuis. This means address changes from as far back as 2006 or earlier may have been missed. The candidates are certainly noticing.

“I can’t get over the amount of people who aren’t on the list. When I stopped at Résidences mutuelles, I went over the list with a few residents, and 3 out of 4 were missing. I brought them forms to register, so I hope they filled them out,” says Ward 3 candidate Pat Keough. “Some people say they’ve lived in their home for 20 years and have even voted before, yet they’re not on the voters’ list.”

Ward 1 candidate Lise Sénécal agrees, saying even some homeowners are not listed. “I hope people make the effort, because it’s so important to vote. I wish there was a more reliable list, but right now we are relying on MPAC and it’s not a perfect system. I really want people to know that they can go until the very last day, bring your ID and you will not be turned away,” she stresses.

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