I live in Tiny Township, and this year voting was done through Vote By Mail ballots. I found that out on Friday. I have never voted in a municipal election in Tiny, so I was not on the voter list and did not receive a Voter Information Package. I called the Tiny Township office on Friday to ask where the polls were going to be held on Monday and I was simply told that it was Vote By Mail this year. I said that it was obviously too late for me to vote by mail (because there is a reason they call it snail mail), so I asked what to do instead. I was told that on election day (Monday), I can get a ballot at the Tiny Township office and put it in their ballot box. So the Tiny Township office is the one and only polling station then? That doesn't sound good.
Maybe it is because I am used to casting my vote in Toronto, but it seems like a really bad idea to only have one venue for voting. Tiny Township has over 18,000 residents who are eligible to vote. Is there enough space for everyone who will be coming to vote? Does the township office have a room to vote in? Is there enough staff to assist people? I imagine they are assuming that most people mailed in their ballots and that people casting their vote at the office will just be those who aren't on the voters list. Unfortunately, if the people I know are an example of Tiny voters, I think there are going to be plenty of confused people at the township office on Monday.
Two people I know who are on the voter list and got a Voting Information Package in the mail, didn't even open the envelope. They both assumed they didn't have to care about it until election day. That seems fair to me. People are really apathetic about voting in general (voter turnout is less than 50%), so I don't think it is too much of a stretch to think that people wouldn't give a shit about their Voting Information Package until the day they thought they had to (election day!). I didn't even care about asking where to vote until the Friday before the Monday election, and I think voting is really important! Who knows how many people just left their ballots in a pile of mail on their kitchen table, only to open them sometime this weekend and not understand what to do?
Another person I know received their voting package and opened it, but thought the information about voting by mail was just that - information. They assumed they could take their ballot to the polling station on election day. I looked over the package. It does have instructions on how to vote by mail, but it never tells you why you should. Nowhere does it say: "Hey Look! There is NO POLLING STATION in your area! We want you to vote by mail this year! Please mail this back to vote!!" A lot of people just expect to do what they did last time (go to a polling station) so unless it is specifically spelled out, I imagine some people just ignored the vote by mail option and assumed there was a polling station somewhere. I know I thought there was. Isn't there always a polling station somewhere?
Oh yeah, there is... The Tiny Township office. I wonder how full and crazy it is going to be when I get there on Monday?
Even if there are long lines, make sure you get out there and vote! It is worth it to make sure your voice is heard.
UPDATE: The township office wasn't all that busy when I went to vote. There was a steady flow of people dropping off their ballots in person, as well as a few I overheard saying "I just opened it this morning..." The woman I was behind in line said her parents opened theirs that morning, and if they had known, they would have mailed it last month. I asked the election clerk how many ballots they got back through the mail and she said it was over 6000. About 9000 people vote, so that left about a third of voters dropping off their ballots/having to vote at the office.