Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Hanging Chads

I encourage everyone to read up on this story that will likely get shuffled away by the local media. The Readers Digest version is as follows: Liberal Chris Kibermanis got more votes than his Conservative opponent in Edmonton-Castle Downs during last fall’s election. He won three appeals to verify that he got the most votes. He’s been working hard as an MLA for his constituents since November… Yesterday, a judge decided to award the election to his Tory opponent who received fewer votes than Kibermanis.

Kibermanis is taking this in stride and it appears the Alberta Liberal Party won’t be appealing the results, wanting to avoid a long legal battle. Now, I know I’m probably being somewhat partisan here but I have three big concerns over this:

1. Once the lawyers decide things, you’re inevitably not going to have a level playing field. One alert reader who brought this story to my attention, properly called Thomas Lukaszuk’s lawyers a “highly paid, O.J.-style legal team”. Kibermanis meanwhile works construction…I suspect he likely didn’t have the same caliber legal team.

2. Why is a judge better suited to decide what constitutes a spoiled ballot than the Chief Returning Officer? The Election Act doesn’t define a spoiled ballot so the decision should rest with the local returning officer since, you know, that's the entire job of the CRO!

3. It’s extremely rare for a judge to award an election to the loser. If there was significant doubt and the court felt the need to interfere, why not have a bi-election?

Chris has said he’ll run again next time and I encourage Edmontonians to get involved and help him out when that next time comes around.

6 Comments:

  • This was such a bitter pill. Chris seemed like a really nice guy. If anything, though, hopefully this will force Lukaszuk to be a better MLA, and also next time, hopefully Chris can pick up some of the sizable (1000+) number of NDP votes providing he make the easy pitch that he'll need every single anti-Tory vote to topple Lukaszuk.

    One thing about your entry, though - Chris hasn't been working as an MLA since the election. He wasn't sworn in (therefore he was only "MLA-elect"). In fact, he's been welding in Fort McMurray over the past month in order to pay the bills. He was attending caucus meetings and trying to get prepared to represent Castle Downs, though.

    It's a real bummer.

    By Blogger Jim, at 5:52 PM  

  • I feel for ya CG and for the Liberals for that matter. Seeing Kibermanis cry on tv was a bit tough last night. However, with the race that close, you just had to know that whoever lost would just keep on appealing until they had exhausted all of the appeals that they could in the slim hope that they would win. This is one of those slim hope times.

    The fact that they could take this to court is a good thing, as it shows finality of the process. I'd rather put it up to a judge who's sort of out of the loop for the election ballot validity to be impartial in deciding.

    If Kibermanis had lost by 3 votes, applealed three times, then once to the court and had it over turned I'd be fine with that.

    Part of this also has to do with what exactly does a valid vote look like. When I was a scrutineer we had all sorts of crazy stuff, like people writing in intials by the selection, writing "this one" with more than one x in various ballots and so forth and so on. Tough job in such a close race to determine what is valid and what is not.

    RT

    By Blogger Bemused, at 8:04 PM  

  • It's tough in these close races. I just think the CRO is better suited to judge what constitutes a vote than a judge, considering there is no clear definition as to what qualifies as a spoilled ballot.

    And hey, when you only have a handful of seats, each one you lose is painful.

    btw, I checked out your blog (good stuff) and added a link to it...for some reason, when I clicked on your profile the first post it took me to was this one from last October. I laughed out loud...unfortunantly, 16 seats is bang on after the recount...

    http://reasonabletory.blogspot.com/2004_10_01_reasonabletory_archive.html

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 11:32 PM  

  • Hah, ya, that was a pretty glib prediction made more out of boredom than brains. I think I made a more reasonable prediction somewhere along the way but even then I think I was heavy on Tory MLA's.

    Ah well. Lesson learned. BTW, my Liberal riding prez friend managed to topple a Tory so he's pretty pumped and he's pretty happy that my prediction was way wrong.

    Thanks for the link.

    RT

    By Blogger Bemused, at 10:25 AM  

  • Come to think of it, though, why should Kibermanis have to pay ANY legal costs? There are a number of lawyers in the party executive and presumably many more who are actively involved in the Alberta Liberal Party... couldn't a few of these lawyers have stepped up to do some pro bono work for Chris?

    By Blogger Jim, at 3:05 PM  

  • By Blogger mmjiaxin, at 8:49 PM  

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