The wait to see if the eighth member of Thompson city council for the 2018-2022 term will be decided via a byelection or a judicial recount of the Oct. 24 election tally is not over yet.
“The papers have been filed in the court,” senior election official Dave Turpie said Nov. 8, the day after Mayor Colleen Smook and the seven confirmed councillors were officially sworn in at their inaugural meeting.
The application for a provincial court judge to review the rejection of the ballot, which had two marks in the mayoral portion – one of them a solid marking indicating a vote for one of the candidates and the other an “ambiguous” mark – and conduct a recount, was filed around noon Nov. 7, Turpie said. The two marks in the mayoral section of the ballot resulted in it being rejected by the machine that tabulates votes. There were also eight properly marked votes for councillors and seven for school trustees, Turpie previously told the Thompson Citizen.
Both Andre Proulx and Chiew Chong – the council candidates who finished tied for the eighth spot on council with 1,008 votes – objected to the ballot rejection, the City of Thompson said in an Oct. 26 press release, which meant that Turpie had to apply for a judicial recount under the Municipal Councils and School Boards Elections Act.
If the rejection stands, the tie will remain and the city will proceed with a byelection where any qualified person, not just Proulx or Chong, could run for the vacant council seat. If the judge decides that the votes for councillors and school trustees should be included in the official tally, it may break the tie if only one of the two candidates who are currently tied are among the council selections, Turpie said a few days after the election.
Recounts must be held within two weeks of the application or as soon as practicable, says the Municipal Councils and School Boards Elections Act, which also stipulates that the recount must be conducted in the same fashion as the original count – either by hand or by voting machine tabulation, unless the judge believes that method of counting caused or contributed to the doubtful result. If possible, the recount must occur continuously between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on a weekday. The results must be announced once the recount is completed.
The court will inform the city when it has set a date and time for the review of the rejected ballot and the recount.