There was a small decrease in voter turnout for the 2011 municipal elections.
The elections saw a new board for the School District 51 board of trustees and City of Grand Forks council, though regional directors for areas C and D and the mayor remained the same.
“The last election saw around 1,400 ballots cast, and this one had 1,211,” stated Diane Heinrich, Chief Elections Officer. “We are around 200 voters less than previously.”
Estimates (from civicinfo.bc.ca) indicated about 38.6 per cent of eligible voters in Grand Forks turned out to vote.
The estimated number of eligible voters in the city were 3,053 (according to civicinfo.bc.ca) and only 1,211 people (according to the city report) cast a ballot.
Of those who voted, there were several ballots that were rejected due to inconsistency or incorrect markings.
“There five different parts to the act under Section 130 that a ballot can be rejected as and of course, one of them is if you have a blank ballot,” Heinrich explained. “If there isn’t any marks on it it’s rejected or sometimes there could be marks other than an ‘X’ or a check mark, so if there are other symbols or different things that could deface a ballot, they can be not accepted.”
Other reasons for ballots being rejected include a false ballot and more marks than required.
“For instance, for the mayor’s ballot you’re only allowed one mark. If there were more than one mark, you would have to disallow it because you don’t know what the intent was,” Heinrich stated.
“In the council candidates ballot, you can mark up to six, but if you mark seven, the ballot would be disallowed. “
In terms of reaching out to the public to become more involved, Heinrich stated that while the city advertises all required legislative notices, the public has to become more involved with what they want to see in the community.
“One thing that may help is that (from) what we gather, is the next election in 2015 is going to occur in October,” she said.
“It’s going to happen a month sooner so there’s less chance of bad weather and some people who go away during winter months may still be here.”
“It’s hard to know how to engage and encourage people to vote.”
Overall, Heinrich pointed out the final tallying of ballots went smoothly and everything was a success.
Mayor Brian Taylor received 641 votes, Christine Thompson received 400 and Ann Gordon received 138.
The top six councillors that received the highest ballot count were Cher Wyers with 681, Neil Krog with 652, Michael Wirischagin with 621, Bob Kendel with 489, Gary Smith with 455 and Patrick O’Doherty with 434.