FREDERICTON - New Brunswick's chief electoral officer says he wants to address the snafus that delayed the release of Monday's provincial election results by asking a judge for a special audit.
Michael Quinn said Friday he will seek 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.
"I would like to get together the advisory committee to see whether they would like to develop some sort of a review of some of the ballots, just to justify the system," Quinn said in an interview.
"It probably isn't necessary, but there were calls for recounts (on election night)."
Quinn said the committee — a requirement 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, Quinn can't call for official recounts. That's why he's seeking support for some kind of audit or review.
However, a judge with the Court of Queen's Bench must grant a recount if a candidate or voter requests one in an electoral district that has been decided by 25 votes or less.
That threshold was met in the riding of Saint John East, where Liberal Gary Keating defeated Progressive Conservative Glen Savoie by eight votes.
If the margin of victory is greater 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 Progressive Conservative party could not be reached for comment Friday. Quinn said he was not aware of any voters or candidates seeking a recount.
The deadline for applying for a recount is at end of the business day on Tuesday.
On election night, the Opposition Liberals led by Brian Gallant defeated the governing Progressive Conservatives by taking 27 of the legislature's 49 seats. David Alward's Tories held on to 21 seats and the Green party elected their first member to the legislature, party leader David Coon.
Quinn's decision to seek an audit came as Elections New Brunswick confirmed that the unofficial results released early Tuesday were correct, except for a few minor discrepancies that did not affect the outcome in any riding.
"We remain confident that despite the troubles that occurred ... the counting of all votes cast was done accurately and did not change the outcome of the election," Quinn said in a statement.
The problems started Monday around 10:15 p.m. local time, when the Elections New Brunswick website used to feed voting results to the media suddenly hit a glitch and votes started disappearing from some districts.
Toronto-based Dominion Voting later blamed an off-the-shelf program that was supposed to transfer polling data from an Elections New Brunswick computer in Fredericton.
The flow of voting results stopped for about two hours while technicians worked on solving the problem.
The delay prompted speculation about the validity of the election, which was the first time New Brunswick used optical ballot scanners — 713 of them provided by Dominion Voting — to count ballots in a provincial election.
"Dominion is an excellent company," Quinn said. "We have great faith in their products. We'll continue to use them. This was only one unfortunate process that didn't work well and held up the voting for several hours."
During the process of confirming the final, official results this week, five ballots were discovered that had not been processed by poll workers through the scanners on election night.
But none of the five ballots changes the outcomes of the elections in those ridings.
Gallant is scheduled to be sworn in along with his cabinet on Oct. 7.
— By Michael MacDonald in Halifax.