Dead dog registered to cast vote in upcoming Mono, Ont. election

Cookie, in life a "docile, lovable dog," had never received municipal correspondence before. Now, she had the chance to have her say in Mono’s town leadership.

Cookie had been gone four years when she was given the chance to participate in local democracy

A picture of Cookie, the now-deceased dog that received a voter PIN in the mail in Mono, Ont. (CBC)

A few weeks ago, Heleena and Ed Ens of Mono, Ont. received letters with their voting PIN codes for the upcoming election.

Alongside their two letters was a third, addressed to someone named Cookie.

This was bizarre for a couple of reasons.

First, Cookie is the Ens's Old English sheepdog. Second, she's been dead for four years.

"She was just like a great big woolly bear … that apparently now can vote," said Heleena Ens, looking over a coffee table full of snapshots of Cookie.

Heleena and Ed Ens walk their new dog, Mulligan. Mulligan did not receive any paperwork from Mono. (CBC)

Cookie, in life a "docile, lovable dog," had never received municipal correspondence before. Now, she had the chance to have her say in the political future of Mono — a town of about 7,500 about an hour-and-a-half's drive northwest of Toronto. 

Heleena Ens went to the town's offices to explain the mix-up and wound up speaking to Fred Simpson, Mono's deputy clerk.

"I tried to explain to him that Cookie was a dog, and Cookie is no longer with us," she said with a chuckle.

Voter list comes from MPAC

Simpson told Ens, and then CBC News, that voter information doesn't actually originate with the town of Mono.

"The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) compiles the advance list, and they send that to us," he said.

So how did Cookie end up on MPAC's radar?

Ens says she never registered Cookie with the municipality, so it couldn't have been through them. 

Fred Simpson, deputy clerk for Mono, Ont., said that he's not sure how Cookie ended up in MPAC's crosshairs, but that the PIN could never have been used anyway. (CBC)

"Anyone can go to the website that MPAC runs and see if they're on the list" and add themselves if necessary, said Simpson. MPAC could also have "mistakenly" picked up the name themselves.

Even if the ghost of Cookie — or a fraudster trying to use her identity — wanted to vote, there would be no way to do it, explained Simpson. People logging in to vote online need both the PIN and the correct date of birth. 

"You could never get into the system," he said.

So Cookie will not be voting from beyond the grave on Oct. 22 — and the Ens can only speculate where the political winds would have blown her.

"My wife is liberal and I'm conservative, so [her vote would] depend who she was with that day," said Ed Ens.


 

With files from Nick Boisvert, Ontario Morning