Calls for recount grow in New Brunswick after technical glitch
Published Tuesday, September 23, 2014 11:02AM ADT Last Updated Tuesday, September 23, 2014 1:35PM ADT
FREDERICTON -- Calls for a recount in New Brunswick's election grew Tuesday as the leader of the People's Alliance added his voice to the Progressive Conservative party's push for a hand count of every ballot cast.
But the province's chief electoral officer says the results are automatically verified before they become official on Friday.
Michael Quinn said after that, there are automatic recounts in ridings won by 25 or fewer votes, and candidates can also apply to a judge to ask for a recount if they think there has been an error.
Quinn said there was a discrepancy found between the results that were manually entered and those from the tabulation machines at about 10:15 p.m. AT, so they stopped posting the results to their website.
About 30 minutes later, Elections New Brunswick suspended vote counting for almost two hours.
The Liberals won a majority government but the vote was plagued by problems and uncertainty on Monday night.
Quinn said the problem has been traced to a program provided to Elections New Brunswick by Dominion Voting.
"The problem is not with the tabulation machines. They know how to count, they do a good job," he told a news conference.
"The problem was in one particular program or process that was developed for us by Dominion and which didn't, for some reason, work properly. We identified it. We found out how to correct it, so the results on the web are correct."
A spokesman for Dominion Voting who was also at the news conference said it remained unclear what caused the problem.
"We haven't looked into our processes to determine why it didn't show up in any of the early testing," James Hoover said. "Our focus is just to get the results done now. That's a topic of discussion later."
Liberal Leader Brian Gallant's party won 27 seats, the Tories 21 and the Greens took one riding.
Gallant didn't back the Tory call for a recount Monday night. But Kris Austin of the People's Alliance of New Brunswick said he agrees with the Progressive Conservatives on the need for a recount.
Using his riding as an example, Austin said the numbers his party got from scrutineers at the returning office don't match the numbers they received later on.
"There's just a lot of questions," said Austin, who lost the riding of Fredericton-Grand Lake by 26 votes. "It's not adding up."
Austin said he will ask for a recount in his riding and he supports a recount of all the ballots across the province.
"If nothing else, the people of New Brunswick need a sense of confidence and closure in the election results. And I think the only way that can be achieved is to have a manual recount."
Austin said the legitimacy of the legislature is at stake.
"Obviously the electronic process failed us and to have a government or elected MLAs in power based on a failed process just puts the whole system of democracy in jeopardy," he said.
Green Leader David Coon, who won the riding of Fredericton South, said he hasn't seen all the details of what happened but public confidence needs to be maintained in the election machinery.
Coon said a review is needed to make recommendations on how to avoid problems in the future after what he called an "unprecedented" series of problems for a Canadian election.
"For me, the bottom line is that New Brunswickers have to feel confident in the election results, so whatever it takes to ensure that New Brunswickers have confidence in the final results," he said before Quinn's news conference.
"Obviously there is going to have to be a review of this whole thing to take a look at what happened and why. ... Elections New Brunswick is not looking very good this morning in most people's eyes as a result of this, despite their best efforts and they did seem to pull it out at the end very late there and get the final results in."
But Quinn said a review is not needed.
"No, we know exactly what happened," he said. "All of the records are there to substantiate the results, so there's no need for a wider review."