UXBRIDGE: With just 22 votes having decided the race for Ward 1 Councillor in the recent municipal election, council voted in favour of a recount last week.
The decision was made following a special council meeting on the morning of Monday, Nov. 7, in which Councillor Northeast requested a recount.
In the Oct. 27 election, Pam Beach claimed victory in Ward 1 with 531 votes, narrowly edging incumbent Councillor Bev Northeast - who has served on Council since 1991 - the recipient of 509 votes. Blair Emmerson rounded out the Ward 1 race with 152 votes.
Township Clerk Debbie Leroux explained that within 30 days of an election, if council passes a resolution, the clerk has 15 days to conduct a recount, after which the results are certified. The recount uses the same process as was carried out on election night. Ms. Leroux also noted that there was nothing to suggest that the machinery or the original counting method may have been flawed.
Ms. Leroux explained that there were 16 rejected ballots in Ward 1, but that unless the municipality were ordered by Ontario Superior Court to do so, they are not eligible to be included in the recount.
As well, Ms. Leroux, in response to a query from Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy, noted that the cost of the recount would be approximately $8,000, which includes the cost of programming the vote tabulator, as well as staff and legal costs.
Replying to a question from Ward 3 Councillor Pat Mikuse as to wether or not she expects a different result as a result of the recount, Ms. Lreoux stated that she “doesn’t anticipate any difference.”
Councillor Molloy argued in favour of the recount, noting that it is the right of the candidate to request that one be carried out, and there is no threshold for triggering a recount, aside from a tie, set out in the Elections Act.
“The only way we can make this decision is that it’s a candidate’s right. There’s no threshold, and I don’t think it’s our decision to make,” added Councillor Molloy.
Some councillors however, questioned the need for the recount, and the potential message it sends regarding the township’s mail-in ballot process for municipal elections.
“We’re basically saying to the public that we don’t trust the system we have in place without a substantial reason,” commented Ward 5 Councillor Gord Highet. “I’m not seeing the possibility of change. We’re taking the same ballots and putting them through the same process and expecting a different result, that’s the definition of insanity.”
As well Ward 4 Councillor Jacob Mantle noted the difference between hearing and granting a request.
“I don’t agree that it’s a candidate’s right. It’s only their right to ask,” commented Councillor Mantle.
In a recorded vote, Councillors Molloy and Mikuse voted in favour of the measure, while Councillors Mantle and Highet were opposed. With Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger absent, Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor broke the tie with an affirmative vote.
“I believe that when someone has served the community well that it’s their right and if I was in the same position and felt that I wanted a recount, I’d like to think that council would respect my wishes,” Mayor O’Connor told The Standard.
According to Ms. Leroux, the recount will be carried out before Nov. 22, within the 15-day time frame set out by the Elections Act.