Recount application withdrawn

Yes, a recount application has been withdrawn, not in Wolfville but in Sydney.

A mayoral candidate defeated by more than 30,000 votes in Cape Breton Regional Municipality pulled his request for a recount Monday after a judge told him he should be prepared to pay court costs.

You see in order to discourage frivolous recount requests the court makes the applicant pay all costs if the result is insignificant. A few votes difference here and there is not considered significant unless it changes the outcome so the margin usually needs to be pretty close especially in a small town with only a few polls.

The examples Mr. Bacich presented in court Monday showed discrepancies of a few votes, not the thousands that would be needed to overturn Mr. Morgan’s win, Justice Edwards said. [link to source]

And the costs can be significant. $2000 bucks a day not to mention the $200 application fee. We wonder if Eric Hughes realises this. Although he has reason to wonder at the very slow count and the sudden turnabout on the official count we doubt that the 44 or whatever votes that separate him from Mr. Zimmerman will be made up on a recount. The mayoral race was won with a closer margin and no application for a recount was made there.

Wolfvillian Becker has weighed in on this issue now with another open missive. We don’t have to go to the post office any more to find them (where we might miss out if someone has already scrapped them); he sends them now to us by e-mail. Excerpts below are from that copy to give you the flavour of his latest.

The Wolfville Municipal Election “Soap Opera”

(“Stay tuned to the next weekly episode!”)

Lutz E. Becker / November 02, 2008

On October 18, 2008 and during the “early voting dates” app. 1,340 electors (about 42%) voted at the Wolfville school to fill the offices of the Mayor and the Councillors for the next four years.

On October 20, 2008 at the regular Council Meeting, the “unofficial” results were presented. The public was told that these figures and the winning candidates would be made official the very next day.

Unbelievably, on the third day after the election a surprising fact surfaced – a “miscount”. About 137 votes, cast in the early voting, were somehow “misplaced and/or overlooked”.

These particular votes favor the candidate Carl Oldham and – when official – Carl will take office as a Councillor instead of Eric Hughes, who had “won” prior to the discovery of the “miscount”. Unfortunately, “early congratulations” (including mine) to Eric now prove embarrassing because according to the “new” count he is no longer a “winner”. What a turn of events – like in a soap opera.  Perhaps, an apology to Eric is in order.

Becker asks some of the same questions we have- and more.

It is very understandable why Eric paid 200 dollars deposit and filed an application for a recount with the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia.  …section 133 (1) [of the Municipal El;ections Act]  then reads: “The returning officer shall attend throughout the proceedings at the place and time appointed for the recount with the sealed ballot boxes and poll books used at the election, ..”.

Some ideas and implications read as follows:

* There is a thin border-line between excusable human errors and incompetence and – having been trained and sworn in as a deputy returning officer myself at the recent federal election – I find it almost unbelievable that about 137 votes became somehow “misplaced and/or overlooked”.
* Having been glued to the TV screen during the night after the polling stations were closed, I found it difficult to comprehend that the small Town of Wolfville was unable to present its results on TV, while much bigger municipalities like Halifax were able to do so. What was so time consuming to count app. 1,340 votes and why were the final results still incorrect despite all the time taken?
* This “miscount” delays the “new” Councillors to be sworn in and allows the “old gang” to go on ruling Wolfville.
* For sure, this returning officer will be an honorable and trustworthy person, but the fact that she is employed with the Town and takes her orders from the Mayor and the CAO should not be ignored. Personally, I would like to see an independent person, chosen by Council, to fill the position of the returning officer as the highest authority in a municipal election

However, understandable it is for Mr. Hughes to want some kind of replay we would hate to see him come out of this whole thing in the red, with a 2K hit which we would think he and his family could ill afford. Perhaps some kind soul has offered to pay his tab if he fails.


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