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New Brunswick Tories Demand Hand Count Of Election Ballots

New Brunswick's Progressive Conservatives say they won't accept Monday's election result until all ballots are counted by hand.

Vote-tallying through a system of automatic tabulators ground to a halt Monday night with the Liberals apparently clinging to a one-seat majority, leading or elected in 25 seats. The Conservatives were at 23, with the Green Party leading in the other seat.

Shortly before midnight, Progressive Conservative president Jason Stephen publicly called for a hand count of all the ballots.

"It's fundamental that every voter and every vote be cast properly. Clearly there has been a problem with tabulation machines in some ridings," Stephen said.

"We're calling on Elections New Brunswick to count every vote by hand," he said.

"Regretably it's best to make sure all votes are counted properly, and at that time we will accept the outcome of the election from the New Brunswick population."

The automated system of calculating results in the New Brunswick election brought the counting of votes to a near standstill Monday night with the outcome hanging in the balance.

The electronic system of having voters insert their ballot into a tabulator that would automatically add the votes at the close of the polls was touted as possibly the way of the future in Canada.

But as the outcome hung in the balance, Elections New Brunswick stopped updating the vote tally for more than 90 minutes.

In many ridings, only the votes in one of the tabulators remained to be counted. By 11 p.m., three hours after the polls closed, not a single riding had 100 per cent of its votes counted.

Chief electoral officer Mike Quinn issued a statement late Monday, saying that at 10:30 p.m. Elections NB staff who were monitoring the results noted some of the results entered manually were not being replaced properly with the results being uploaded from the tabulators' memory data cards.

"As a result, to ensure the results shared with the public did not provide incorrect information, Elections NB halted updates until we can verify the information."

Elections NB said 664 to 713 tabulation machines have been returned to the returning offices.

"As this continues, we will further update the results using only machine reported numbers, as we have complete faith that these results are reporting properly," Quinn said.

"There may be delays until all tabulators have reported, but we have to ensure all results are accurate before releasing them to the media and public."

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