OTTAWA — Federal New Democrats have confidence in the voting system they have in place for their leadership race as mud continues to fly over the recently concluded Conservative campaign.
"The voting system we have implemented is extremely rigorous and contains numerous safeguards to ensure that the results are accurate and verifiable," Rick Devereux, the NDP's director of leadership, said Tuesday in an email to The Canadian Press.
"The fact that members will be able to vote online also diminishes the risk of human error. That being said, the ballots will be kept in a secure place after the election of the new leader."
Destruction of Tory ballots one of many concerns
The destruction of the paper ballots from the Conservative leadership race immediately after it concluded on May 27 is one of several concerns that have surfaced in the days since Saskatchewan MP Andrew Scheer beat out Quebec MP Maxime Bernier for the top job.
Another has been that the party reported 141,362 ballots were counted on that day while the voters' list sent to each campaign showed just 133,896 voted, according to media reports citing red flags raised by Bernier's supporters.
The difference of 7,466 is just slightly higher than the number of votes that separated Scheer and Bernier on the final ballot. In the 13th round, Scheer received 62,593 to 55,544 for Bernier.
The race wasn't won on votes, however, but on the points allocated to candidates based on the percentage share of the votes they received in each riding across the country.
The Conservative party has explained the difference in vote totals as being the product of human error — volunteers checked off names by hand of those who voted in person on May 27 at polling stations across the country, and didn't strike the names from the party's central electronic list.
The Conservative party has explained the difference in vote totals as being the product of human error. (Photo: The Canadian Press)
The party has said that doesn't mean anyone could have voted twice, as the paper list noted those who'd already voted by mail.
Others are complaining about never receiving a ballot, despite asking for one multiple times. The party has placed the blame for that on Canada Post and not on their own officials.
No formal complaint over the process has been filed to the race's organizing committee, said party spokesman Cory Hann, who also pointed to the rules agreed to by all candidates.
"The vote, organized by the (chief returning officer) and verified by the independent auditor (of valid ballots and points received) is final and binding," reads the applicable section of the rules.
While many of the complaints have been made anonymously, party officials have not shied away from defending the process.
Process was fair: O'Toole
"I maintain that the process wasn't perfect, but it wasn't biased and it produced a result which should now be accepted by all," Derek Vanstone, the deputy returning officer, said Tuesday on Twitter.
Conservative MP and defeated leadership candidate Erin O'Toole said in a statement Tuesday that he has no complaints about the voting system.
"Based on my team's experience with the leadership election, I am very confident that the process was run fairly," he said.
The NDP are using a similar ballot to the Conservatives, allowing members to rank their preferences among the candidates in the race. There are currently five.
But unlike the Tories, the NDP won't count all the ballots on the same day. Instead, the party is planning for several rounds of ballot tallying spread out over weeks if no candidate hits the 50+1 per cent threshold in the first round.
Those who are casting ballots online can change their vote in between the rounds. The first round begins on September 18 and ends on October 1.
The New Democrats are no stranger to vote counts going wrong; during the 2012 leadership campaign, the party's website was attacked, leading to lengthy delays in voting and the announcement of results.
The Conservatives had cited the NDP's experience as one of the reasons they opted to forgo online voting during their race.
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