News » Whistler

Judge to rule on spoiled ballot



Tie decision will result in runoff election in January

A provincial court judge will review a Whistler election ballot, which was accepted by machines on Saturday and then rejected in a recount two days later.

Monday’s recount was ordered after results from last weekend’s municipal election showed incumbent Dave Kirk and candidate Marianne Wade were tied for the sixth council seat with 1,057 votes each.

Chief Election Officer Brenda Sims tried to recreate Election Day in the recount on Monday but things didn’t go according to plan.

"The ballot that went through on Saturday, went through as a valid vote," she said.

"As far as we’re concerned it was an accepted ballot and (on Monday) when we ran it through again it was rejected based on the fact that there was a small pen mark on it."

She describes the pen mark as a "tiny, tiny mark on the ballot."

The discrepancy in the votes may be attributed to the way the ballot was entered into the machines on the different days.

"I think the explanation that was given, looking at the ballot, was the tiny pen mark shows how (the machine) will pick up marks depending on the way it was set into the machine on Saturday and the way it was set in (on Monday)," said Sims.

"(It) may not have been the same way."

Machine technicians from Toronto were on hand during the recount and were satisfied that the apparently errant pen mark on the ballot was causing the problem, Sims added.

When asked if it was a tie-breaking ballot between the candidates in question she said:

"It could be."

"We’d like the courts to look at these rejected ballots to determine whether or not they should be accepted or rejected," said Sims.

And so the fate of the sixth councillor, who will join Ken Melamed, Caroline Lamont, Gordon McKeever, Kristi Wells, Nick Davies and Mayor Hugh O’Reilly on the next council (see feature story page 36) will lie in the hands of a provincial court judge. The day and time of the hearing has yet to be determined.

"I’m taking the results from Saturday as a tie and going to the judge and asking for a judicial recount," said Sims.

At Monday’s council meeting councillor Nick Davies called for a manual recount of the votes.

"This is a similar situation to Florida where the problem arose not really with the ballot but with the voting machine and that’s why at council on Monday night I very strongly suggested to our staff that we ought to have a manual recount," he said.