Peachland mayoral candidate Harry Gough was court in Kelowna Friday to oppose a judicial recount of ballots cast in the recent civic election. —Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News

Judicial recount ordered in Peachland mayoral race

Challenger Harry Gough and incumbent Mayor Cindy Fortin are tied with 804 votes each

A recount of all the ballots cast in the recent Peachland mayoral election, and supervised by a provincial court judge, will take place Monday.

The recount, to try and find a winner between challenger Harry Gough and incumbent Cindy Fortin in the now-tied election, will take place in the council chamber at the Peachland Community Centre starting at 10 a.m. Oct 29.

B.C. Provincial Court judge Ellen Burdett approved the District of Peachland application to hold the judicial recount after Gough appeared to have won the election Oct. 20 over Fortin and three other challengers by just one vote on election night. A recount by district election staff earlier this week saw the race become a tie between Gough and Fortin, each with 804 votes.

Burdett ordered the recount despite Gough saying he was opposed. But when she asked him what section of the Local Government Act he was basing his challenge on, he could not say.

Gough said he is concerned about how the ballots were handled by election officials, claiming when he arrived on election night at the vote count, ballot boxes were not sealed as they should have been. Chief election officer Polly Palmer denies that was the case.

Burdett told Gough that if has concerns about the election itself, he must file an application with the Supreme Court of B.C. as the provincial court does not have jurisdiction when it comes to complaints about how civic elections in B.C. are conducted.

The judicial recount is expected to take as long as six hours to complete given that all the ballots cast for the five mayoral candidates will be recounted.

She said all the candidates, plus one representative each, will be allowed to be in room during the recount and will be able to challenge ballots. If challenges are made, Burdett, who will be present, will rule on them.

The public will not be allowed to attend the recount but the media will be present. However, Burdett said no news of the recount can be made public before she either declares a winner based on the recount or the winner is decided by the drawing of lots if Gough and Fortin remain tied.

She warned the reporters present in court covering the application for a judicial recount that do report progress prior to her declaration would be contempt of court.

She said she was making the ruling to protect the integrity of the vote.

Outside the court, Gough said he would hold off on any decision to court challenge to how the vote was held pending either Burdett the result of Monday’s recount.

While Palmer and Gough were in court Monday, Fortin was a no-show.

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