Errors to St. Mary’s new voting map corrected

ST. MARY’S – Due to “math errors” while tallying voter numbers, officials for the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s have updated a new polling map that’s designed to help residents choose the way they’ll be represented in the next election.

“The planning team has identified math errors in the initial calculation of voters in each district,” read a statement on the municipality’s website and Facebook page last week. “We have corrected the errors and updated the tables of voter counts and variances.”

Earlier this month – after approving a reduction in the number of polling districts in the municipality from seven to five – local council posted an interactive map offering six detailed options for a more streamlined St. Mary’s council. Each included specific boundary lines, total area in square kilometres, number of electors, and major communities.

According to last week’s statement, “The various proposed potential boundaries have not changed [as a result of the update], though we have added two more options to explore different combinations of boundary changes and their effects on voter counts.”

The new options – affecting about 44 voters – include one that draws a boundary line between hypothetical polling districts ‘A’ and ‘B’ through the middle of Little Liscomb Harbour; and one that shows that line further east incorporating part of the peninsula of Little Liscomb. Those areas are represented by councillors Charlene Zinck (District 2) Everett Baker (District 7).

In an email, Ian Watson, senior planner at Upland Planning and Design Studio of Dartmouth, who supervised the work on behalf of municipality stated: “The data errors were a spreadsheet error in how we (Upland) were adding up the number of voters associated with each civic address. The result was that some districts had more voters than initially thought, and some had less. We caught the error internally while preparing to present the boundary options at last week’s public meetings. We regularly review the quality of our work and while this error unfortunately slipped through the first time around we identified it when looking at the numbers with fresh eyes the second time around.”

He added: “With the change in calculations a few of the options that initially seemed ideal from a numbers perspective now have voter counts that are less than ideal, so we wanted to test a few more options to try and get all of the districts within the +/-10 per cent threshold that the NSUARB considers ideal.”

In their statement, officials confirmed, “We have extended the closing date for the online map comment submissions and to Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. All comments placed before this update are still valid. The preferred polling districts will be submitted to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board by the end of 2022.”

Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal