Concerns swirling around procedures in place during Sooke’s recent byelection have been addressed by a line-by-line audit of the voting books, says chief elections officer Carolyn Mushata.
“I am pleased to report that all ballots cast (1,447) were issued to 1,447 individual voters indicating that no double voting occurred,” wrote Mushata in an Oct. 7 press release.
Concerns were originally raised when some Sooke residents pointed out that people’s names had not been struck from the voter rolls on the regular voting day, despite that they had already voted in the advance polls.
“I was told that there is more than one list and that when you sign by your name you’re saying that you haven’t already voted,” said Josh Burneau, after noticing his parent’s names were still on the voting list, despite the fact that they had already voted.
Melanie Burneau was also concerned with the situation and communicated her concerns to Mushata. She was told that every voter had to sign the rolls and make a “solemn declaration” that they had not voted already and that “the district relies upon … this declaration.”
“I’m in no way saying that there have been people voting more than once, but I am saying that the potential for this is present,” said Melanie Bureau.
The Burneau’s concerns had been exacerbated by the narrow margin enjoyed by Dana Lajeunesse who won out over his closet rival, Kevin Pearson, by only three votes.
The concerns might have been allayed had there been a commitment to an audit of the voter rolls when the concerns were initially raised, but Mushata would not commit to an audit at that time.
The concerns generated other complaints on social media from voters who said they had not been asked for any identification before receiving their ballot.
Mushata responded in an Oct. 3 press release, where she pointed out that there is no legislated requirement to show identification before being given a ballot.
The whole episode had Pearson initially considering his options.
“My original concern was the closeness of the outcome and whether there would be a recount. I was told that it wouldn’t happen unless I asked for a judicial review. I wasn’t inclined to do that.”
And while the official audit of the voter books has addressed the Brurneau’s concerns, any of the parties wishing to challenge the validity of the election due to the procedural problems still have 30 days to do so after the declaration of the official election results.