Lawyers argue validity of man's vote from jail that tipped balance in Yukon election

·2 min read

WHITEHORSE — Lawyers are squaring off this week over the validity of a ballot cast in Yukon's last election by an incarcerated voter in a riding where the Liberal incumbent lost her seat in a tie vote.

James Tucker, a lawyer for former Liberal cabinet minister Pauline Frost, told the Supreme Court of Yukon on Wednesday that "carelessness" in authorizing the voter shows April's election was not held in good faith and a failure to follow the Elections Act produced results that did not reflect the will of legitimate voters.

Frost tied in the riding of Vuntut Gwitchin with New Democrat Annie Blake, who was declared the winner after the drawing of lots, which set off the court challenge by Frost alleging two people who cast ballots were ineligible to vote in the riding.

Tucker told the court the man imprisoned in Whitehorse had indicated to an election officer that he wanted to vote in his home riding of Vuntut Gwitchin, and he was allowed to cast a special ballot without the required residency verification.

Blake's lawyer, Shaunagh Stikeman, disputed that argument, saying the man has spent most of the last 20 years incarcerated outside his home community of Old Crow and he has long stated, including in court, that he intends to go back there.

She said any doubt about his true home or intention to return when he's free to do so is answered by acknowledging his Indigenous identity and the special connection Indigenous people have with their territories.

The election results left Premier Sandy Silver's Liberals tied with the Yukon Party at eight seats each, but Silver worked out an agreement with the NDP that allowed him to form a minority government with support from the party's three members.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 23, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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