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Community activist wants increase in rejected election ballots investigated

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – A community activist has an issue with the large number of ballots rejected in Vancouver‘s election last fall. Vancouver resident Randy Helten is demanding the city investigates the “over -votes” before they can be officially destroyed beginning tomorrow.

“Over-votes” occur when a voter chooses more candidates than allowed; in the end that race isn’t counted. In the 2014 election, roughly 6,000 ballots were rejected, a number which has Helten worried. “There’s been a big jump of 300 to 400 per cent since the last three elections in the number, and it hasn’t been explained properly by city hall and the election officer.”

He thinks the spike is due to a problem with the new high tech voting machines. “The brand new optical readers used could be taking false positives, which means could have been a speck of dust on the card or could’ve been something on the glass or some kind of technical software flaw, so they’re counting or rejecting more than they should have.”
Other reasons he believes include someone tampering with the ballot cards or data, or possibly simply an increase in people making mistakes.

In an emailed statement to News1130, Tobin Postma with the City of Vancouver says “the decision for an individual to over-vote on sections of the ballots is made by the voter themselves (either accidentally or purposefully). If a particular race is over-voted, then the votes for that race are not counted. If the other races on the ballot are not over-voted, then the votes for those other races are counted. A ballot with an over-voted race is not a spoiled ballot. It says anyone concerned about election processes could apply within the statutory time frame to the court for a review. This time frame has now expired and there were no challenges to the 2014 election process.”

Meantime, NPA councillor George Affleck wants city staff to investigate what went wrong during last fall’s election. “The motion I have coming forward is really related to the experience of the election on how it rolled out on some of the main issues such as long line ups, people not getting a chance to get in there and vote.
Some voters were turned away from polling stations because they had run out of ballots; others had to wait in line for up to 40 minutes to vote.