Explained: Why rival campaigns are concerned about the Conservative leadership results
While Andrew Scheer has slid comfortably into his new role as leader of the federal Conservatives, there are questions being raised behind the scenes about whether the ballots in last month’s leadership vote were counted fairly and accurately.
The party has so far stood behind the razor-thin result that saw Scheer beat out the perceived front-runner Maxime Bernier, when he earned 50.95 per cent of the vote in the 13th round.
Here’s a round-up of the issues and questions surrounding the results.
The 7,500 discrepancy in voters
It all more or less begins with the question of whether there is a discrepancy between the number of ballots cast and the number of ballots counted, as was first reported by CTV on Thursday.
The Conservative electronic vote-counters counted 141,362 ballots. But a list of voter IDs provided to each of the 13 leadership candidates’ campaigns showed only 133,896 members cast valid ballots, according to the report.
The difference between the two numbers – a total of 7,466 votes – could easily have been enough to sway the result one way or another, given the thin margin.
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What could have caused the inconsistency?
The party has chalked up the difference in numbers to human error; mistakes happen when election volunteers enter upwards of 140,000 data points taken from off-site polling points prior to the convention, mail-in ballots, and ballots cast at the late-May convention, the party’s spokesman said.
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A pollster who spoke with iPolitics last week, however, said the party’s explanation doesn’t add up – that the discrepancy is a result of something more complex than accidentally neglecting to include the votes from the 13 off-site polling locations, as the party has suggested.
“For instance, [the pollster] says raw vote results downloaded on the night of the convention show 10 more votes were cast in two Thunder Bay, Ont., ridings than appear in the strikeout lists. The nearest in-person polling location to Thunder Bay was in Simcoe Grey, a 13-hour drive away,” iPolitics reported late last week.
Rival campaigns react
Supporters of Scheer’s closest competitor, runner-up Bernier, were the first to publicly question the discrepancy in numbers between the ballots cast and ballots counted.
According to a Globe and Mail report, someone from the Bernier campaign is expected to come forward with a sworn affidavit as early as today “detailing troubling questions” about the results leading to Scheer’s victory.
A senior member of her campaign is reportedly asking to know exactly what role the accounting firm Deloitte played in verifying the leadership vote – was there an actual high-level audit or did they simply monitor the counting and “recalculate and reconcile” the results?
Could the Conservatives end up with a different leader?
It’s not likely the results of the May vote will change. The Conservative party has said the original ballots were destroyed (though scans from the machines counting the votes exist) once Deloitte certified the results, as per party convention, making Scheer’s win binding.
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