POLITICS

'None of the above' option won't be on ballot for New Brunswick byelection

10/24/2014 01:52 EDT | Updated 12/24/2014 05:59 EST
FREDERICTON - Elections New Brunswick won't be adding a "none of the above" choice to the ballot for the upcoming byelection in the riding of Saint John East.

Members of the province's electoral advisory committee have discussed the issue but say more time is needed to examine the option.

Chief Electoral Officer Michael Quinn suggested it as a way to allow voters who want to express their discontent with the choice of candidates to do so in complete confidence and have it be counted.

During the September provincial election, tabulation machines sounded a beep when anyone left their ballot blank or otherwise spoiled their vote.

Quinn says that feature is intended to make sure a voter doesn't inadvertently lose their vote as the result of an honest error while marking their ballot.

Elections New Brunswick spokesman Paul Harpelle says because of the provincial election, new members of the advisory committee will soon be chosen and the ballot issue will be discussed again in the new year.

But Bruce Fitch, the interim leader of the Progressive Conservatives, says he's completely against the idea.

"It takes a lot to serve the community as an MLA or municipal representative or an MP, and to put 'none of the above' is a real insult to the people who are brave enough to put their name on a ballot," he said Friday.

The electronic tabulation machines used in the recent provincial election will be used again in the Nov. 17 byelection.

However, Elections New Brunswick won't be using the piece of software that resulted in confusion and delays in posting the results on election night.

The software, which was used to transfer results to a server that delivered the vote counts to the media, caused incorrect numbers to be posted. It took officials from Elections New Brunswick and Dominion Voting about two hours to trace the problem and get corrected results posted.

Harpelle said since the byelection is small, the results can be handled in-house and won't have to be transferred to other servers.