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Candidates and slates demand own election observers

by Archives March 11, 2008

Citing past allegations of electoral fraud and a lack of confidence in current Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Jason Druker, an opposition slate running for council in this year’s elections is demanding their own ballot counters, and may be prepared to go to court to get them.
The slate primarily driving the demands is “Change,” a group of would-be councillors under the leadership of current councillor Andrew Fernandez. The slate, which Fernandez said consists of 16 candidates for council, represents the only serious opposition evident at the time of printing to the incumbent Unity slate running for the executive.
According to Fernandez, he and others on his slate have serious concerns as to both the competence and the honesty of the current CEO. Citing as evidence Druker’s management of the 2007 elections, in which Concordia’s Judicial Board declared two candidates invalid over allegations of fraud, Fernandez argued that the presence of independent scrutineers would remove much of the cause for subsequent challenge.
In both federal and provincial elections, it is common practice to allow the various parties to monitor the casting and counting of votes.
For his part, Druker argued that there was no need to take any additional precautions over ballot security.
“My DEOs travel with the security guards. All ballot boxes are provincial elections’ ballot boxes. They are [specially] taped. On top of it, they are well documented and secured. It’s impossible not to know tampering by [condition of] the ballot box,” said Druker Monday night.
Elie Chivi, the Unity slate’s candidate for VP Communications, echoed Druker’s concerns, arguing that scrutineers could adversely affect the honesty of the election.
“I don’t agree with that whatsoever. I don’t think observers can stand there inconspicuously, they could freak out voters. But also, it could make them feel like they could be swayed,” said Chivi.
Early that evening, Fernandez, argued that if Druker was unwilling to allow independent oversight of the election, his slate might be willing to seek an injunction against the process going forward.
“[A court challenge] is definitely something that we’ve been discussing,” he said.

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