POLITICS

People's Alliance leader to seek recount in his Fredericton area riding

09/29/2014 12:26 EDT | Updated 11/29/2014 05:59 EST
FREDERICTON - Recounts are needed to restore confidence in New Brunswick's electoral system after a software glitch led to the vote count being suspended during last week's provincial election, says the leader of a political party.

Kris Austin of the People's Alliance of New Brunswick went to the Court of Queen's Bench in Fredericton on Monday to seek a recount in the riding where he unsuccessfully ran for a legislature seat.

He plans to make his application Tuesday after getting some paperwork in order and doesn't expect a change in the outcome.

"At the end of the day, whatever happens happens, (but) I'm not expecting a whole lot of change," said Austin, who lost to Progressive Conservative candidate Pam Lynch by 26 votes in Fredericton-Grand Lake.

"My biggest concern is that people in New Brunswick have lost some hope in the system, and I think that the only way to regain that trust is to do this recount."

The software glitch was blamed for a two-hour delay posting results on election night, prompting calls for an audit.

Dominion Voting Systems said Monday that an internal review determined its products and software worked properly and the integrity of the election results was never compromised.

In a statement, the company said off-the-shelf software used to transfer results to a server for the media was the source of the problem. In the future, only software that has received Dominion's approval will be used.

Chief electoral officer Michael Quinn is seeking a consensus from an all-party committee for an audit that could provide a random sampling of the voting results from a number of ridings.

Quinn said Friday that the committee, which is required under the Elections Act, is made up of two members from each party that fielded at least 25 candidates in the election. The committee hasn't been appointed yet, but Quinn said that should happen in the next three weeks.

Under provincial law, a judge must grant a recount if a candidate or voter requests one in a riding that has been decided by 25 votes or less.

If the margin of victory is wider than 25 votes, a voter or candidate can still request a recount, but they must pay a $200 fee and submit reasons for their request to the Court of Queen's Bench.

The deadline for seeking recounts is at end of the business day on Tuesday.

"I'm encouraging other candidates that were close to do it as well because the people deserve that regardless of the outcome of the recount," Austin said.

He said Elections New Brunswick determined that one woman who voted in his riding actually lived outside it and wasn't eligible to vote in Fredericton-Grand Lake. If that woman's vote went to the winning Tory candidate, his margin of loss would drop to 25 votes, Austin said.

Austin said that's one of the arguments he plans to make to the court. As well, he said the numbers he received from the returning office are not the same as the numbers released by Elections New Brunswick.

In Saint John East, Progressive Conservative Glen Savoie lost his seat to Liberal Gary Keating by eight votes.

Jason Stephen, the president of the Progressive Conservative party, wouldn't comment on whether the Tories will seek any recounts. The party's executive director, J.P. Soucy, said the party would comment on Tuesday.