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Halifax candidates raise questions surrounding integrity of municipal voting process

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WATCH ABOVE: Halifax has a new mayor and council but not everyone is pleased with the way the vote went. Unofficial election results were made available on Saturday, and it wasn't long before candidates in some of the more competitive districts began to raise questions surrounding the integrity of the voting process. Global's Jennifer Grudic has more – Oct 17, 2016

Halifax has re-elected Mayor Mike Savage for another term and welcomed some new faces to city council, but not everyone is pleased with the way the vote went.

Unofficial election results were made available on Saturday night shortly after the polls closed and it wasn’t long before candidates in some of the more competitive districts began to raise questions surrounding the integrity of the voting process.

Districts 9 and 14 both saw small margins of victory, however, it was District 10 that was the closest race of the night. Andrew Curran lost to incumbent Russell Walker by 15 votes.

READ MORE: Halifax election 2016: Mike Savage returns, Lindell Smith takes Peninsula North

Curran said he believes the gap could have been influenced by a technical issue. He said he was made aware of an issue where voting information for a condo building on Dutch Village Road was incorrect via social media.

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“Anybody can go to the ‘Where do I vote?‘ page on the HRM website and type in 3471 Dutch Village Road. You’ll see it listed there three times in three different ways,” Curran said.

“The first thing you click on, it’ll tell you go to to District 9.”

Halifax Regional Municipality spokesperson Brendan Elliott said they we made aware of the situation early Saturday.

“(We) immediately called over to polling district, talked to the supervisor there that was overseeing the election and said if anyone comes in that has this advice, please send them over to the appropriate polling station and district.”

Elliott said the polling supervisor initially said that no one from the building showed up to vote, but upon further investigation the formal polling books revealed two voters did vote in the wrong location.

“We couldn’t necessarily do anything about it at the time. But we are confident in knowing that those two votes would not have any effect on the outcome of the election.”

However, Curran believes the mistake could have made the difference.

“There was only a spread of 15 votes between Mr. Walker and I. If they’re only reporting two people that have voted from there, I would like them to prove the integrity of the system is better than what I’m seeing.”

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READ MORE: Halifax election 2016: Who’s your councillor now?

Walker said he will await the official results before making a statement, however, he did say he doesn’t believe the website error would have had any impact on the outcome of the election.

Curran also raised the issue surrounding the implications of the mix up on District 9, where Shawn Cleary defeated long-time councillor Linda Mosher by 107 votes.

“In an election, the people are always right and I respect the results of Saturday’s election,” Mosher said in an emailed statement to Global News.

“Our campaign team, however, did witness, or was informed of, a number of questionable activities related to the counting and handling of ballots in District 9. Our team will await the response of municipal elections officials to our concerns and observe the official count tomorrow before making a final decision on whether to seek a judicial recount. At this point in time, it’s important to stress that our team doesn’t believe there is sufficient cause to request a judicial recount.”

Despite these allegations, councillor-elect Cleary said his campaign team didn’t encounter any issues on election night, stating it was “business as usual.”

Another tight race, the one in District 14, saw Lisa Blackburn defeat incumbent Brad Johns by 47 votes. Johns said he doesn’t anticipate the need for a recount.

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The official election results will be released on Tuesday. As per the Municipal Elections Act, work will begin at 10 a.m. and continue until all candidates are satisfied with the numbers.

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