Greenwood’s Chief Elections Officer (CEO) has taken responsibility for an error in the vote count following the city’s byelection Saturday, Oct. 10. The error will not affect the results of the election.
CEO Wendy Higashi said the results she filed to Elections BC and the Ministry of Housing and Municipal Affairs, which share jurisdiction over city elections, gave 10 extra votes to mayoral candidate Gerry Shaw, who lost to candidate Barry Noll.
Initial results showed that Shaw had 163 votes to mayor-elect Noll’s 182. In fact, Shaw received 153 votes.
Higashi said she submitted the correct results shortly after the Thanksgiving weekend.
“It’s my job to make sure everything is correct,” Higashi explained at Mayor Noll and Councillor Mark Seymour’s swearing-in ceremony Wednesday evening, Oct. 21.
All four official vote counters, sitting at the same table and in the presence of scrutineers, made the same counting error at the last tally of ballots, Higashi explained. Higashi said she didn’t know how each vote counter independently arrived at the wrong tally.
“It’s a very stressful process,” she said.
Higashi said no one told her there was a discrepancy during the official vote count at the McCarthur Centre. Instead, Higashi said she spotted the mistake when, looking at an initial summary, she compared the number of tallied votes to the number of accepted ballots. This is the first miscount after a Greenwood municipal election, she said.
Ballots are read out by the CEO and counted by official vote-counters. Running tallies are scrutinized by campaign volunteers, according to Higashi. No one told her they’d noticed a discrepancy on the night of the election, she said.
Higashi said clearer communication between vote-counters and scrutineers would probably avoid miscounts in future elections.
Asked for comment, Mayor Noll said, the mistake “is water under the bridge now.”
“I like to keep my focus on the windshield rather than the rear-view mirror,” he said.
Council unanimously voted to accept the final results of the byelection after Wednesday’s ceremony.