Judge rules byelection for Clearwater County election dispute

There’s been another election twist in Clearwater County. A Court of Queen’s Bench justice has ordered a byelection be held after the result of the Division 4 race was challenged.

By PAUL COWLEY

ADVOCATE STAFF

There’s been another election twist in Clearwater County.

A Court of Queen’s Bench justice has ordered a byelection be held after the result of the Division 4 race was challenged.

On election night, unofficial results had Chuck Shipley defeating incumbent John Vandermeer by a single vote — 184 to 183. A recount turned the tables, giving Vandermeer a two-vote victory, 183 to 181.

However, Shipley challenged that outcome. At issue, were three ballots — all in favour of Shipley — that were determined in the recount to have been spoiled because they did not include the returning officer’s initials.

Shipley disagreed and launched a legal action.

A byelection is the best way to go given the questions, said Shipley, who served two terms on council from 2001 to 2007.

“It would appear it’s the only reasonable and safe way to go for everybody involved,” he said.

“It was the best conclusion the judge could come up with to solve the present problem. That’s his words.”

Shipley, who is retired, isn’t sure what to expect for the byelection. Typically, they draw fewer voters than a regular election.

Vandermeer said he and Shipley were informed of the byelection on Thursday.

“Due to the uncertainty as to how to handle the three votes in question the judge ordered this byelection,” he said.

“I look forward to meeting my constituents during the upcoming campaign.”

Vandermeer declined to comment further on the judge’s solution.

“The judge determined what the way to go is. That’s his job. I have no comment on that.”

Council will pick a date and polling station locations at its Tuesday council meeting.

“I am confident in the election process,” said Reeve Pat Alexander in a statement.

County spokesperson Christine Heggart said a copy of the judge’s order was not available on Friday, but the municipality is expected to receive it next week.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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