How to decline your ballot in the Ontario election

If you want to cast a declined ballot, simply hand it back to the returning agent.
If you want to cast a declined ballot, simply hand it back to the returning agent. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

TORONTO – There is an official way to vote for no one hidden deep within the Ontario Elections Act.

It’s called the “Declined Ballot.”

After receiving your ballot, simply give it back to the returning officer telling them you’ve declined to vote.

“An elector who has received a ballot and returns it to the deputy returning officer declining to vote, forfeits the right to vote and the deputy returning officer shall immediately write the word ‘declined’ upon the back of the ballot and preserve it to be returned to the returning officer and shall cause an entry to be made in the poll record that the elector declined to vote,” according to the Ontario Election Act.

In Depth: Ontario Election 2014

A declined ballot allows the person to be counted among those who voted without voting for any candidate.

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According to Elections Ontario, 2,335 voters officially cast a declined ballot in the 2011 provincial election.  In 2007, that number was 3,412.

Declined ballots are counted separately from other votes but are considered valid. Declined ballots are different than spoiled ballots, which encompasses any ballot that’s ripped, eaten, marked incorrectly or otherwise unfit to record.

Read More: How to vote in the June 12 election

The 2011 election served as a new record low for voter turnout as it hit 49.2 per cent – down from 52.8 per cent in 2007.

There’s a plethora of reasons not to vote; disinterest or being too busy were chief among them in the last federal election, according to Statistics Canada.

According to the same report, 7.6 per cent of people didn’t vote in the last federal election because they just didn’t like any of the candidates.  These non-voters were most likely to be under 25 years old.

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