‘Six strenuous months of limbo’: Saint John Harbour voter irregularities case drags on
Progressive Conservative candidate Barry Ogden says it’s been a frustrating process.
Just over six months after losing the riding of Saint John Harbour to former Saint John councillor Gerry Lowe by just 10 votes, any sort of clarity is hard to come by.
Although a recount confirmed the result, a closer examination into 8,000 documents related to the riding found dozens of irregularities. Returning municipal officer Patti Nason’s review of Elections New Brunswick documentation found that at least one person voted twice, along with other instances were electors were not struck off or may have voted in the wrong electoral district.
Despite his frustrations with the process, Ogden says that it’s important to get the matter resolved.
“It has been six strenuous months of limbo,” he said.
“But you know it’s our electoral system, it’s our democracy, it’s the rule of law. It’s extremely important to our whole well being and community.”
WATCH: Voting irregularities hearing focuses on Voter Information System
As per the New Brunswick’s Election Act the matter is supposed to resolved within six months, which would mean by the next hearing on April 5. But with no resolution in sight, Justice Hugh McLellan will likely have to grant an extension.
Tuesday’s brief hearing saw Ogden’s lawyer Kelly VanBuskirk submit revised documentation, which Lowe’s lawyer Tom O’Neil disputed, claiming parts of the application strayed into commentary and even spin.
The exchange prompted McLellan to encourage the lawyers to find some common ground in order to speed up the lagging proceedings, stating that the time before a trial should be used to “clarify, specify, simplify.”
“I encourage you to talk and agree and simply this proceeding,” he told VanBuskirk and O’Neil.
“The public are watching. They don’t want to see any legal proceeding drag on–neither do the parties involved.”
With 78 voters still to be dealt with it’s unclear how long it will take to come to a resolution, but proceedings are certain to stretch past the six-month deadline.
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