By James Matthews, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Minden resident Michele Bishop believes in the importance of taking part in the electoral process, but she didn’t vote in the last municipal election.
That’s because Bishop couldn’t vote, despite having lived in the township since she bought a house there in 2017. She received her two-page voter instruction form in the mail. It had her PIN to access Internet voting and details on how she could vote by way of telephone if that was preferable.
Life’s daily tasks kept her from the polls until about 6 p.m. And she said she had unread candidate information that she wanted to go through so as to inform her choice.
Voting in the municipal election took place until 8 p.m. but she couldn’t leave her house to travel to a location to mark a ballot in person.
“I was engaged in other things,” she said. “I had dinner on the stove and those kinds of
Electronic and telephone voting are supposed to make it easier for people with busy lives to be able to vote, to have a voice in the electoral process. When she logged into online voting, her PIN identified her as an invalid voter, she said. She got the same result when she tried telephone voting. “I normally don’t get bent out of shape about many things,” she said, “but that’s my voting right.”
Bishop has been trying to find out ever since the election, how it could’ve been that she was deemed an invalid user. “I asked them in my email for a full explanation about and a reply about how did it happen that I had an invalid PIN number?” she said.
Nothing but crickets in the way of feedback thus far.
Multiple attempts to connect with a representative of the township have been unsuccessful. “There was a mix-up,” Bishop said. “I was speaking to one of the candidates, actually.” In the lead-up to the election, Bishop spoke with one of the candidates and learned that she should have gotten a voter information
card. The candidate to whom Bishop spoke reached out to the municipality on Bishop’s behalf.
“The town called me and, within two days, I had my form,” Bishop said. But, she said, the township staff didn’t know why Bishop wasn’t on the voter list with them. “They (town staff) encountered a problem
that perplexed them,” she said. “They could not come up with an answer about why I was
not listed with them.” Bishop said she was told the omission had been corrected and she received her voter card about a week before Oct. 24, the final day to vote.
“Since Oct. 25, I’ve been looking for an answer as to why I couldn’t vote,” she said. Though she can’t confirm other residents had experienced the same difficulty casting a vote, Bishop said she’s heard there were others with invalid PINs.
“I wasn’t the only one,” she said.