To­day’s the last chance to cast your bal­lot early

The London Free Press - - CIVIC ELECTION 2018 - JEN­NIFER BIEMAN jbie­man@post­media.com twit­ter.com/Je­natLFPress

With voter turnout on par with that in the last mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion and few ranked bal­lot­ing gripes so far, city elec­tion of­fi­cials hope ad­vance polls are a har­bin­ger of what’s to come on Oct. 22.

El­i­gi­ble vot­ers can cast bal­lots at eight lo­ca­tions around the city un­til 8 p.m. to­day, the fi­nal day of ad­vance polls.

Voter turnout at the ad­vance polls — which opened Tues­day — is on par with what the city saw in the 2014 elec­tion, city clerk Cathy Saun- ders. By Fri­day af­ter­noon, more than 9,700 Lon­don­ers al­ready had cast bal­lots.

“We still have one more day to go, so you never know what the fi­nal turnout is go­ing to be,” she said. “We saw an in­crease in the (over­all) voter turnout in 2014, so ob­vi­ously we’re hop­ing to in­crease that even more this time.”

This year’s mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion is the de­but of ranked bal­lot­ing. Ex­tra staff are sta­tioned at ad­vance poll lo­ca­tions to an­swer ques­tions about the new vot­ing sys­tem, Saun­ders said.

“(Staff ) greet the voter as they’re com­ing in and ask them if they’re aware of the ranked choice vote,” she said. “(They) in­form them about the op­por­tu­nity that they have to pick up to three in­di­vid­u­als if they wish . . . We re­peat it again as they’re handed their bal­lot.”

Ranked bal­lot­ing is for mayor and coun­cil po­si­tions. School board trustees are cho­sen by the first-past-the-post sys­tem, Saun­ders said.

“We’re quite pleased. It ap­pears that a lot of the vot­ers that are com­ing to the poll have heard about the ranked choice vote and are at least aware of it,” she said.

Saun­ders said learn­ing they can make a sin­gle choice has al­layed some vot­ers’ fears.

“I think there was a lot of con­fu­sion in the com­mu­nity that if they only chose one can­di­date and didn’t choose three that it would be a spoiled bal­lot, but that’s not the case. They can pick one, two or three,” she said.

Though some vot­ers aren’t pleased with ranked bal­lot­ing and say so at the polls, over­all re­sponse from early vot­ers has been pos­i­tive, Saun­ders said.

“We haven’t re­ceived a lot of neg­a­tive com­ments at the poll. We were an­tic­i­pat­ing that and are pleas­antly sur­prised we’re not see­ing that oc­cur. So far, so good,” she said.

Saun­ders

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