Letter to the Editor: Electoral confusion about school division designation

Dear Mr. Editor,

I find it very enlightening on Election Day that our volunteers at Parish Hall and, more importantly, the person charged with running the voting process did not know that our Morinville Catholic School Division was Public. They had assumed it was Separate.

While I was filling out my registration form to vote I realized the section that designated whether our school board was Public or Separate was already checked off and it was marked incorrectly. My volunteer voting officials had marked Morinville schools as belonging to a Separate School Division. I informed the volunteers that our schools are part of a Public Catholic Division. I did not wish to sign the registration sheet with the wrong designation. The volunteers said they were instructed to mark off the Separate School Division box. The volunteers called over the person overseeing the voting operation. I told her that the volunteers were marking off the wrong boxes. The managing official looked at me confused and I explained to her that Morinville schools belong to the only Public Catholic School Division in Canada – Greater St. Albert Catholic School Division. The Separate School Division is St. Albert Protestant Schools which does not apply in Morinville. We only have one choice. She told me to scratch out the Separate School mark and mark the Public School box instead and initial it. I asked if she would correct the misrepresentation and she nodded and left.

I asked two family members who voted at a different alphabetical line than me if their Separate School Division box had already been ticked off as well. No, it had not. The volunteer had said to leave it blank as there was only one choice in Morinville. When my family members asked which one we would check off, the volunteer replied Separate School.

We approached the managing official again to tell her that more than one volunteer was misinformed about the Public status of Morinville Catholic Schools. She gestured to her phone implying that she was in the process of texting someone else to deal with the error. I told her I felt the error was very important and she nodded and returned to her phone texting. I went to Morinville Town office and asked who I could speak to about an error being marked on the voting registration sheets and the receptionist told me to speak with Jennifer at Parish Hall. I take it this is the managing official I spoke to.

It would seem that it is not only new residents to Morinville like the person who wrote Ask A Candidate Question #15 who are surprised to learn all the Public schools in town are part of a Catholic school system. If residents believe all Morinville schools belong to a Separate Catholic system they may not know they have a voice in Morinville’s Public system to ask for a fully secular education for their enrolled children. And they do.

Donna Hunter

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