SHERBROOKE – The Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s held a special meeting on Monday, October 24 to discuss election irregularities in the District 3/5 poll held on October 15. Rennie Beaver and Kaytland Smith ran for the seat left open when incumbent David Clark didn’t re-offer. Council passed a motion, based on a number of irregularities, to make an application to have the election results in District 3/5 voided under section 152 of the Municipal Elections Act.
“Yesterday we filed those papers with the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia,” St. Mary’s Warden Michael Mosher told The Journal on Tuesday morning. The decision was taken after several emergency meetings on the issue.
The case will be heard on November 1 in Antigonish. “At that time we’re expecting to hear as to whether we’ll be granted a hearing to look into the validity of the election.”
The application to the Supreme Court lists four grounds for voiding the election results in District 3/5. They are as follows:
- Victory by two-vote margin.
- An elector was permitted to vote by proxy on the regular polling day without having first applied on the prescribed form to the returning officer eight days prior to the vote.
- After the ballots were counted at one of the poll locations, a polling agent physically handled the ballots that were contained in one of two baskets as well as a spoiled ballot.
- Ballot boxes from both polling stations 5A and 5B were not properly sealed contrary to the Municipal Elections Act and poll 5A ballot box was transferred unsealed from that location to the 5B location and both were transported unsealed to the returning officer in Sherbrooke.
Points two through four are all in violation of the Municipal Elections Act.
“It is all about the integrity of the election process and the integrity of the municipality,” said Mosher of the decision to make an application to the court. “It is unfortunate for the residents; unfortunate for the parties involved running in the election...We want to get that position filled but we want to make sure it’s filled correctly. It’s all in respect for the process and the system we are governed by.”
This is the first time in the history of St. Mary’s that such an action has been taken to determine the outcome of a municipal election.
Council will be sworn in on Wednesday, October 26. There will be no councillor for District 3/5 until a ruling is received from the court. Depending on the court’s decision a by-election for the seat may be necessary.