Recounts largely uphold results across New Brunswick in tight municipal races

·4 min read
Election officials counted votes in Saint John's Ward 4 on Wednesday, one of several races across the provinces where municipal election results were being recounted because of close results.  (Paul Harpelle/Elections NB - image credit)
Election officials counted votes in Saint John's Ward 4 on Wednesday, one of several races across the provinces where municipal election results were being recounted because of close results. (Paul Harpelle/Elections NB - image credit)

Recounts of tight municipal election races across New Brunswick have largely upheld the preliminary results.

Elections NB spokesperson Paul Harpelle said Thursday that recounts confirmed the results published May 25 for races in Grand Falls, Stanley, Hanwell, St. George, Norton, Fredericton, Saint John, Moncton, Paquetville and Bas-Caraquet.

No updates were available for two recounts in Edmundston.

Recounts were also held for ties in Sainte-Marie-Saint-Raphaël, Neguac and Beaubassin East.

Harpelle said the 221-vote tie in Sainte-Marie-Saint-Raphaël between council candidates Guylaine Brown and Onile Mallet was broken when a vote for Brown was deemed rejected by the municipal returning officer, making Mallet the winner. Harpelle didn't have information about why the ballot was rejected.

Recounts were taking place across the province after tight election results in municipal races.
Recounts were taking place across the province after tight election results in municipal races. (Shane Magee/CBC)

Neguac's 342-vote tie between Emile Basque and Albertine Savoie for a council seat was upheld by a recount. The didn't want a name drawn to decide a winner, so Harpelle said a judicial recount will take place Monday.

An 824-vote tie between Omer Leger and Terry V. Richard for a council seat in Beaubassin East was confirmed by a recount. Leger won when his name was drawn Thursday evening.

How recounts occur

Recounts aren't automatic in New Brunswick.

The Municipal Elections Act sets out that a candidate who isn't elected can apply for a recount when there's a difference between an unelected candidate and an elected candidate of 25 votes or less. Requests for recounts must be made no later than June 4.

If there is a tie, a recount takes place with at least two qualified electors, which can be the candidates. If a tie remains and the candidates agree, the municipal returning officer draws a name to decide the winner.

If the candidates don't agree to a name being drawn, the municipal returning officer requests a judicial recount.

If the judicial recount ends in a tie again, the judge writes the names on pieces of paper, places them in a receptacle and directs the municipal returning officer to draw one out. The judge then declares the winner.

Harpelle said the recount process can be lengthy in races with hundreds or thousands of votes.

The votes need to be scrutinized and scanned by a tabulation machine. Each scan takes about 10 seconds, he said.

In Moncton's Ward 2 race, for instance, the preliminary results showed the top two candidates Charles Léger and Daniel Bourgeois, receiving 1,472 and 1,339 votes respectively.

A candidate can apply for a judicial recount under two circumstances.

The first involves a candidate who has participated in a recount who can satisfy a judge that an election officer improperly counted the votes, or that there are disputed ballots from the recount. The candidate must file for a judicial recount within 10 days of the recount by the municipal election officer.

The second is if a candidate has lost by more than 25 and has reason to believe the results may be incorrect. Applications for a judicial recount under that provision must be filed by June 4.

Recounts have affected swearing-in ceremonies.

Fredericton postponed its swearing-in ceremony from June 7 to June 14 because of a recount that confirmed Henri Mallet's win in Ward 12.

Candidate Paula Radwan, left, observes the recount of the results in Saint John's Ward 4 on Wednesday. The recount produced slightly different numbers but did not change who won the contest.
Candidate Paula Radwan, left, observes the recount of the results in Saint John's Ward 4 on Wednesday. The recount produced slightly different numbers but did not change who won the contest. (Paul Harpelle/Elections NB)

Saint John's Ward 4 race had 10 candidates vying for two seats. Preliminary results showed Greg Stewart had 1,141, Paula Radwan had 1,128 and Gina Hooley had 1,120. Incumbent Ray Strowbridge received 1,022 votes.

The recount confirmed Stewart and Radwan will represent Ward 2, though Harpelle said the recount resulted in two more votes, one for each. He said voters used light ink on two mail-in ballots which meant they weren't read by the tabulation machine, though were counted in the recount.

Saint John's council will be sworn in on Monday, though city spokesperson Lisa Caissie said the Ward 4 winners will be asked not to take the oath at that time. That's because there is still a 10-day period when the outcome could be subject to a legal challenge.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting