Ballots from outside Ward 4 byelection being counted by mistake

Daniel
Daniel MacEachern
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Voting problems continue to dog the Ward 4 byelection in St. John’s.

Candidate Matt White told The Telegram on Thursday he discovered streets outside of the ward — which had previously been sent ballots in error — were having their ballots counted.

Candidates are sent a list every day of which streets have voted, said White, and Churchill Avenue was on a recent list, prompting him to check other lists, and found votes had also come in from Russell Street and Crosbie Drive. He said he counted 20 votes from outside the ward.

“That’s only what I found,” he said, adding that he understands the confusion in mailing out the ballots, because the names are similar to streets that are in the ward. “We were all assured … that these ballots won’t be counted, because they can scan barcodes as the letters come in.”

Following a request late Thursday afternoon for a response from the city, a spokeswoman provided a statement from Elaine Henley, the byelection returning officer, who acknowledged the error, and said once the voter declaration form is separated from the ballot, there is no way of retrieving and discarding the ballots.

“We apologize for this; it is our hope that these votes will have no bearing on the election overall, given the large number of voters in this ward,” says the statement. “If the errors have a bearing on the results, we will consult the Elections Act and seek further direction.”

White said he and the other candidates are concerned the integrity of the election has been compromised and wants to see a new system in place for future elections.

“There’s been people left off the voters list with no reasonable explanation. There’s been entire streets left off,” he said.

dmaceachern@thetelegram.com, Twitter: @DanMacEachern

Organizations: The Telegram

Geographic location: Churchill Avenue, Russell Street

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  • Steve
    February 19, 2016 - 14:24

    Here's the other big thing about this - it was the candidate who discovered it. If this guy wasn't on the ball, no one would ever know, and it could result in the wrong person being declared elected. Is this how we want our elections run at City Hall?

  • Bill
    February 19, 2016 - 12:21

    It is so saddening that people either aren't competent enough or just don't care enough to run a democratic voting process properly.

  • Sam
    February 19, 2016 - 07:45

    “We apologize for this; it is our hope that these votes will have no bearing on the election overall, given the large number of voters in this ward,” says the statement. “If the errors have a bearing on the results, we will consult the Elections Act and seek further direction.” Could someone please take Ms Henley aside and explain how voting works, as in it only takes one (1) votes to lose an election. Poor girl!

  • Steve
    February 19, 2016 - 07:34

    I would think if the result is such that the vote separation between the winner and the second place candidate is within a hundred or so votes, the second place finisher will be in an excellent position to challenge the result in court and require the election to be invalidated. The City won't be able to track how people voted, but they should have an accurate record of how many invalid votes were received and counted because of the bar codes referenced.

  • Steve
    February 19, 2016 - 07:26

    What a complete arse up. I feel bad for this guy and the other candidates. First they mail out the ballots early. It's already quite early when people get the ballots - people have already voted by the time they get candidates campaign literature and they appear in debates. Now they're letting unqualified people vote. So this is the crowd who want electronic voting? If they can't handle a relatively simple system like this, with all the hacking and security issues and technical glitches that can occur over the internet ('cause nothing has ever gone wrong over the internet) this is mind boggling.