Every vote counts

Adam Goldenberg doesn’t like Elizabeth May’s suggestion to the Green and New Democrat candidates in Etobicoke Centre.

If the election results were tainted, and the Supreme Court tosses out the result, then every one of those votes will be voided … As I argued here last week, the result of an election is not the same as its outcome; the result is the final vote tally, the outcome is the identity of the winner. The question for the Supreme Court, under a truly democratic interpretation of the Canada Elections Act, is not who should or should not have won, but rather whether the result – that is, the number of votes cast for each candidate – was affected by Election Day irregularities. Votes for Mr. Optiz and Mr. Wrzesnewskyj are not the only ones that matter. Why count every vote unless every vote counts?

As I noted yesterday, there’s some precedent for parties sitting out a by-election, but I’m not sure there’s any precedent for doing so in these circumstances.

Since 1949, five results have been declared void: Annapolis-Kings in 1949, Yukon in 1957, St. John’s West in 1962, Comox-Alberni in 1968 and York North in 1988. In the case of York North, all the parties that participated in the original vote fielded candidates in the by-election. In Annapolis-Kings and Yukon, only two parties were represented in the first place. In St. John’s West, the NDP was represented in the by-election, despite finishing a distant third in the original vote. The 1968 vote in Comox-Alberni resulted in a nine-vote win for the Liberal over the New Democrat, but the Progressive Conservative still ran in the subsequent by-election—though the Social Credit Party and the Communist Party seem to have sat out after finishing a distant fourth and fifth respectively in the original vote.

Mind you, the official records don’t indicate why the Socreds and Communists declined—and the reason for sitting out would seem important here.