Sunday, October 26, 2008

In a judicial 'recount' what do they 'count'?

In my riding of Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca the Conservative candidate Troy DeSouza lost the election to Liberal Keith Martin by 68 votes. DeSouza requested a judicial recount which is to be held tomorrow and Tuesday.

I've always assumed that every ballot was checked and re-tallied. Not so, apparently.

Joanne at True Blue was aghast to discover that in the "recount" done in Vancouver South (Dosanjh vs Wei Young) the presiding judge decided not to open all the poll boxes:

... Tory candidate Wai Young said she was disappointed because Associate Chief Justice Partrick [sic] Dohm, who was in charge of the recount, elected not to open all the ballot boxes .

Joanne notes that it seems "sampling is allowed." Quoting a Canadian Press report:

…The Canada Elections Act gives the judge presiding over a recount the option of recounting votes from some or all of the ballot boxes, along with spoiled and rejected ballots - 259 of them in the case of Vancouver South. The results of the recount are considered final …

If true, this sucks, big-time! It's not a 'recount', but a somewhat arbitrary 'estimate' that's possibly less accurate than the original count. With contests this close (22 votes) unless they check and recount all the ballots there's no way to know with a certainty that satisfies the losing candidate. Not much wonder Wai Young says she is "disappointed".

There have already been suggestions of Elections Canada bias. This non-counting 'recount' can only further diminish voters' confidence in the process. Inevitably questions arise as to a judge's integrity, party affiliation, etc.

I'll be watching to see how the 'recount' goes in my riding tomorrow.

More at Climbing Out of the Dark, Crux of the Matter, Unambiguous and elsewhere.

Update (Oct 27): Blue Like You, sda, DAWG, Jack's Newswatch, Maclean's. Sda commenter Oz provides a relevant quote from a great champion of freedom:

"It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything." ~Joseph Stalin
Upperdate(27 Oct) EJDF Recount confirms Martin win:

... Conservative challenger Troy DeSouza called off the recount after it became
apparent that the number of disputed ballots would not bridge the gap between
him and Martin.

... The Times Colonist won a precedent-setting decision to attend and report on the judicial recount. It's believed to be the first time a media organization has been allowed to witness the Elections Canada proceedings, which have previously been held in secret.

And there's a little more here.

UpperUpperdate (Oct 28): The Times Colonist provides the anatomy of the EJDF Martin/DeSouza recount. I still don't understand why DeSouza terminated the recount. According to the story: "Around 5:20 PM, with all the votes counted...". So why not let the the hard work of the 100 or so volunteers "count" as the final result?
More at Blue Like You.


hunter said...

Thanks for the link! It appears that even the press will be allowed into the recount in your riding, that is how it should be done.

Keep an eye out though, democracy is a very fragile old lady that might be given the boot by thugs.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Thanks for posting this, JR! We need to keep the pressure on. I agree with Hunter that we can't take anything for granted.

I think we also need to start making a lot of noise about changing some of the laws in the Elections Act if this type of this is legal.

Sandy said...

I also want to thank you for posting this as well. Particularly, because the BT blogroll provider is undergoing upgrades and for some reason my posts are not going up. I was on hiatus for a couple of weeks after the election and so think I lost my connection. Anyway, Stephen Taylor is not able to do any updates until is ready. In the meantime, I am hoping that you and Joanne keep updating on this topic so it's not forgotten.

JR said...

Thank you for publicizing this issue. It certainly needed a light shone on it.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

JR, what's the latest on the recount in your riding?

JR said...

Joanne, See Upperdate. I don't know what actual recount procedure was agreed on. DeSouza seems satisfied though, since he called it off. I should add that he seemed hesitant to ask for a recount in the first place and apparently only did so on the urging of some of his people (there was speculation about 'outside' pressure too).

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Well, I'm quite satisfied with this recount, and really not at all disappointed about the results, since Keith Martin has been a good free speech advocate.

JR said...

I agree. Martin's an OK guy for a Liberal (kinda', sort of). Too bad he had to switch parties, he's just as good a Conservative (kinda', sort of) :)

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