The results of District 4 in the Calgary municipal elections will not be subject to a judicial recount.
According to Coun. Lawyer for Sean Chu, the application for the tally was withdrawn by runner-up DJ Kelly.
“We have accepted their decision and we will not seek legal costs,” Ramai Álvarez said in a letter.
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Kelly confirmed that he withdrew the application.
In a statement, he said the decision followed legal opinions from the City of Calgary legal team and Judge Kent Davidson, who agreed that the Local Authorities Choice Act (LAEA) gave him no recourse in an election where voting machines were used. The statement said that the means to present a challenge to the LAEA were out of reach, so it withdrew the request.
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On November 10, Kelly requested a recount after Elections Calgary rejected his recount request.
At the time, Kelly said that pursuing the court tally was not related to a CBC report about Chu’s misconduct with a minor while he was a police officer two decades earlier, but that the difference of 100 votes was enough to justify a recount
“Regardless of whether or not a recount would have changed the election result, the current law is that in Calgary and anywhere in Alberta where a machine is used on Election Day, there is no way to request a recount,” he said. Kelly. .
Kelly congratulated Chu on being re-elected as a representative for District 4, saying residents “deserve strong and effective representation.”
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Chu’s lawyer said they are considering the matter closed and the election results final.
“Councilmember Chu looks forward to continuing to represent his community,” Alvarez wrote.
Official results Elections Calgary show Chu winning with 42.7 percent of the vote.
Trust in the system
Kelly said she plans to advocate for changes to the law after what she learned about how voting machines affect tallies.
“Our democratic system must be built on trust, and the combination of this section of the LAEA and the city’s choice to use tabs to achieve a faster election result means that, by law, confirmation of election results is not possible. “, said. .
Lisa Young, a professor at the University of Calgary School of Public Policy, said she was surprised to hear that the use of voting machines precluded the possibility of a recount.
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“I think there is an expectation in the elections, no matter how they are tabulated, that there will be some way to verify the result,” Young told Global News, noting that the October 18 vote did not show any implication that the machines were malfunctioning.
“But you can certainly imagine a situation where there could be an accusation like that. And if that’s the case, you definitely want to be able to have a manual count to make sure things are being counted correctly. “
He said a judicially supervised recount would help inspire confidence in a correct vote count.
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“It’s one of those extra layers that rarely changes the outcome, but it really leaves us believing that our democratic system is working the way it’s supposed to.”
The city of Calgary first used tabulating machines for the Olympic plebiscite in 2018, but 2021 was the first municipal election to see them used. Edmonton and Red Deer have also used electronic voting tabs, and Elections Alberta used automated tabs in the 2017 Calgary Lougheed election.
Young said the use of electronic tabs in Alberta municipal elections is relatively new terrain and that any changes to the Elections Act would have to occur at the provincial level.
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He said changes to those laws to allow judicial recounts of machine-counted ballots could avoid doubts about the electoral process.
“It could end up in a situation where there is deep mistrust of this technology, and it would certainly increase a sense of cynicism or paranoid theories about what is happening with the vote counting,” Young said.
“So that really worries me.”
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