POSSIBLY IMPORTANT UPDATE BELOW – SCROLL DOWN!
Rest assured, ITQ readers, that I am doing my darnedest to get to the bottom of this story, which seems to get more confusing with every additional tidbit of information that comes out. Thanks to Wai Young’s decision to ask the court to order a second judicial recount, we have a better idea of what happened during last week’s now controversial partial recount – according to the Conservatives, that is:
The Elections Act gives the judge supervising the recount the option of counting all the valid votes, plus spoiled and rejected ballots, or only those from a sampling of ballot boxes.
In the Vancouver South recount B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm opted to recount votes from 28 out of 184 ballot boxes.
An automatic judicial recount was triggered because Dosanjh led by only 33 votes when results were tallied on election night Oct. 14.
The recount gave Dosanjh, a former NDP premier of British Columbia, 16,109 votes to Young’s 16,087.
Leitch says that all the ballot boxes should be reopened and their votes counted, noting that a full recount Friday in a Quebec riding overturned a Bloc Quebecois victory in favour of the Liberal challenger.
The recount in Vancouver South found four vote changes in 22 of the 28 boxes that were opened, raising the possibility of 30 or more vote changes in the unopened boxes, Leitch says.
It’s worth noting that the only people who seem to be willing to go on the record are Young and Leitch. As yet, there is no official statement from Elections Canada on the results of the recount, which is listed as “in progress” on the website, which is frustrating, although understandable – the matter is before the courts and all. The putative winner, Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh, has declined to comment for the same reason.
Also, as pointed out by several commenters in the last thread on this controversy, it’s not clear how, exactly, the Canada Elections Act gives the judge the option of conducting only a partial recount, using a “sampling of ballot boxes” – although during an interview with CanWest News, Leitch himself seems to concede that point:
“The judge has the prerogative to decide how many ballot boxes he’s going to look at, and he decided after the 28 that he felt it was enough and there wasn’t a trend there,” said Leitch.
Leaving aside the issue of whether a partial recount is allowed under the law, however, the numbers that have come out so far just don’t seem to add up.
According to Canadian Press, the recount “found four vote changes in 22 of the 28 boxes that were opened,” which Leitch says “raises the possibility of 30 or more vote changes” in the other 156 ballot boxes. But it doesn’t seem possible to reconcile that statement – which is annoyingly ambiguous; does he mean four changes, total, or four changes in each of 22 boxes, for a total of 88? – with a recount result of 16,109 to 16,087 (which has yet to be officially confirmed by Elections Canada). If accurate, that would give Dosanjh eight more votes and Young an additional nineteen, for a total of 27 new/changed votes – we don’t know if some or all were the result of previously rejected ballots that the judge found to be valid, although it’s possible that the remaining vote changes were distributed amongst the other three candidates.
Anyway, I’m still on the hunt for answers, and I’ll post whatever new information I can track down. In the meantime, just as a point of reference, here are the preliminary and validated results for Vancouver South, as provided by Elections Canada, with the changes listed in brackets. I’ll add the official recount result as soon as it becomes available.
UPDATE: Okay, according to someone who was in the room – I’m not trying to be cagey, and I’m going to be calling Ray Leitch just as soon as it is a slightly more civilized hour on the West Coast – what this story fails to mention is the fact that the recount included – in fact, began with – the examination of each and every one of the rejected ballots – 259 in total – which seems to me to be a rather glaring omission. Of the 259, 41 were declared valid and counted, which reduced Dosanjh’s margin of victory from 33 to 26. That, plus the four changed votes from the opened ballot boxes, adds up to 22 – exactly the difference between the candidates’ final tallies, as provided by CP.
Preliminary results (Source: Elections Canada)
Ujjal Dosanjh (Liberal)– 16,774
Wai Young – (Conservative) 15,995
Ann Chambers (NDP) – 7,288
Gulyas Csaba (Green) – 2,209
Charles Boylan (Marxist Leninist Party) – 213
Total votes – 42,479
Results as validated by the returning officer (Source: Elections Canada)
Dosanjh – 16,101 (-673)
Young – 16,068 (+73)
NDP – 7,369 (+81)
Green – 2,067 (-142)
Rejected – 259
Total votes – 42,076 (-403)
Results after judicial recount (Source: Canadian Press)
Ujjal Dosanjh – 16,109 (+8)
Wai Young – 16,087 (+19)