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Election fair despite errors, recount likely

Despite problems at one of the polls and allegations by scrutineers of irregularites, the Town clerk is satisfied that the Fort Erie municipal election was fair and square.

Scrutineer claims ballots added after closing time

Clerk Carolyn Kett said election officials and scrutineers made errors but that all ballots were counted properly and that no voter was “disenfranchised” from the election.

Controversy surrounds the Ward 2 poll where a deputy returning officer mistakenly mixed up ballots that had been counted with ballots that had not been counted, leading to a cascade of complaints, including one where a scrutineer contends that two ballots were stuffed.

Kett reported to council that the scrutineer for Ann-Marie Noyes alleged two extra ballots had been added to the total after the poll closed.

The scrutineer claims 1396 was displayed on the vote tabulator machine at 8  p.m. and that the deputy returning officer’s voter count balanced to that number.

The DRO’s statement of account shows 1398 ballots had been received and together with the 40 ballots from the retirement homes and institutions, the ballots for Ward 2 numbers 1438, the clerk said.

Kett also received a complaint that a town staff member had been left alone with a ballot box, but she said that all staff associated with the election were duly-sworn officials.

Scotch tape used to seal ballot box

Another complaint said the ballot box was improperly sealed with Scotch tape, she said. The town had planned for this because election officials were told to use tape to ensure the box was sealed if the supplied seal didn’t stick properly.

That was a situation of following training; while in a situation of not following training, the DRO did not initial the 40 ballots from the retirement homes and institution polls.

Kett said DROs are not required to initial ballots under election law, although it is a town policy.

“Previous court decisions have ruled that such an error by a deputy returning officer should not invalidate the ballot nor disenfranchise the elector. On this basis, in the event a recount occurs, these ballots will be counted.”

Town council will meet in open session at 6 p.m. tomorrow to receive the report and decide whether a recount in the mayor’s race is warranted.

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  1. Mike V | Nov 2, 2010 | Reply

    Mike would you be so kind as to list who the DRO, Assistant DRO and the AC were at this station for my own personal knowledge? And who was the town staff member left alone with the ballots?

  2. Mike Cloutier | Nov 2, 2010 | Reply

    I have forwarded your question to the clerk.

  3. Bob | Nov 2, 2010 | Reply

    Can you tell me if one of the persons feeding the ballots into the tabulator was in fact working for one of the campaigns?

  4. Mike Cloutier | Nov 2, 2010 | Reply

    I don’t know, but I do know a group of Americans who are opposed to the Bay Beach development were beating bushes to get people to sign up as election officials.

  5. Martha | Nov 3, 2010 | Reply

    What is this group of Americans that you speak of?

  6. Mike Cloutier | Nov 3, 2010 | Reply

    The group which seems to be headed by Marcia Carlyn composed of American cottage owners who own beach land along Erie Road and others, some of whom are appealing the Bay Beach zoning amendment, as espoused in numerous emails that have recently come to my attention.

  7. Toad | Nov 4, 2010 | Reply

    Having just read an article on the questionable donations during the recent election in the U.S. , I was wondering Mike, if you intend to publish the campaign donations for the candidates for our municipal election?

  8. Mike Cloutier | Nov 4, 2010 | Reply

    Donation information won’t be available until the candidates file their financial statements. The deadline for that is the last Friday in March following the election, March 25, 2011

  9. annie hall | Nov 4, 2010 | Reply

    thanks Mike, I was away on election day and have been dying to learn the substance of these whispered irregularities. The bad seals , duty sworn solo, stuffing, and uninitialled ballots were all news to me. There is much more investigating to do, such as, frequency of ballot box seals being ineffective – seems a major defect, what does the manufacturer have to say. Are all the officers duty sworn, do the sworn in then have authority to be alone with the ballot boxes or can no one ever be alone with them. (especially when the seals don’t work) For that matter how does having two deputies with the ballot boxes guarantee that they won’t be tampered with. Is stuffing really possible and if so what are the cross checks to prevent it. What is the purpose of the town’s policy to initial the ballots and why would someone neglect to do it. Are the polling routines different in these retirement homes. Thanks again for starting the investigation . Keep it up.

  10. Mike V | Nov 9, 2010 | Reply

    Thank You Mike. I will post or forward any reply I may receive directly.

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