DAN CEARNS The Standard
SCUGOG: Former Scugog Ward 3 Councillor Don Kett’s request for a recount of the 2018 municipal election results has been denied by the Superior Court of Justice.
The case was heard at the Oshawa courthouse, on Thursday, January 31st, and Justice Joseph Di Luca decided to dismiss the case.
The case originally featured three former councillors asking for a recount, however on Friday, December 21st, court officials were told former Ward 5 Councillor Jennifer Back and former Ward 1 Councillor Betty Somerville had decided to abandon their application for a recount.
At the start of the hearing, Mr. Kett alleged “irregularities affected the election.”
Some of the concerns Mr. Kett brought up at the hearing were the security of the ballots, the “potential for errors in tabulators”, the accuracy of the voters list, the electronic transferring of election results and certain activities he alleged scrutineers were not allowed to witness.
He also told the court his intent for bringing this case forward was to make sure there was “transparency and accountability”, as he was seeking the court to order Scugog’s clerk J.P. Newman to release certain information he had requested from the clerk.
“I’m asking you today to direct the township clerk to release the information and, if necessary, order a manual recount of the ballots cast by the electors,” Mr. Kett told Justice Di Luca.
Regarding the results, Mr. Kett said who won and lost in the election is “irrelevant to [his] request for a manual recount”, stating he is “not a bad loser.”
Mr. Kett also called this case a “matter of great importance to our democracy” and said people “must be confident that the election was carried out properly.”
The Township’s lawyers then had a chance to respond. Lawyer Chris Lee said there was a tabulator test conducted and they found “every ballot was coded correctly.” He also echoed an affidavit from clerk J.P. Newman, which stated the information being sought was only asked for by the three applicants after the election results were released. He said he believes the Township has “gone above and beyond in providing information” the applicants are entitled to.
Mr. Lee said they have “privacy concerns” with releasing security footage, adding this request is “not rationally connected to this application.” As well, he explained a programming change was behind the Township no longer being able to provide interim results and added this change was “repeatedly explained to the candidates.”
Most of all, Mr. Lee argued that nothing Mr. Kett provided in his case proved “the election results are in doubt” and thus he didn’t feel there were “reasonable grounds for a recount.”
Justice Di Luca was also not convinced there was a need for a recount, and decided to dismiss the case.
“I am not satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe the election results are in doubt,” Justice Di Luca said. The Justice added he will later provide his reasoning to both sides of the case, which will include a decision on costs awarded.
The Township is asking for $29,882 from Mr. Kett for costs of the court case.
At the end of the hearing, Scugog Mayor Bobbie Drew said she is “pleased with the judge’s decision” and stated her “utmost respect for the integrity” of clerk J.P. Newman. With the case now over, Mayor Drew said she is looking forward to getting “back to the work of running the township in a positive and respectful manner.”
Mayor Drew explained the Township “felt this whole thing was unnecessary.”
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