N.B. voting rules under fire
Saint John Harbour may face recount after 9-vote difference
Last Updated: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 | 5:19 AM ET
Saint John Harbour Liberal Ed Doherty isn't disclosing whether he will ask for an official recount after losing the riding by a mere nine votes.
The official numbers will not be validated until Friday and then he'll have four days to launch a recount.
Progressive Conservative Carl Killen was elected in the tight three-way race in the Sept. 27 election.
David Alward's Tories won 42 of New Brunswick's 55 seats.
But a voter in a suburban Saint John riding is questioning the validity of the results in Saint John Harbour, and the final tallies in other ridings, based on his experience at the polls.
Michael Hartery said he believes New Brunswick's election system could fall victim to voter fraud.
'They had no way to verify that was actually me. So really, anybody could have gone as me and voted.'— Michael Hartery, voter
Hartery didn't receive a voter registration card in the mail so he went to the returning office for Fundy-River Valley.
He said staff had him fill out and sign a form, but didn't ask for any identification before letting him vote.
"I actually started hauling out my driver's licence to show them who I was and they said they didn't really need that," Hartery said.
The Saint John-area voter said he was surprised, and troubled, by the lack of identification needed to cast a ballot in the Sept. 27 election.
"They had no way to verify that was actually me. So really, anybody could have gone as me and voted," Hartery said.
Hartery said the rules make it easy to "scam the system" and that could have made the difference in a riding, such as Saint John Harbour where the final vote was so close.
He said the Saint John Harbour outcome demonstrates how just a handful of dishonest voters could change an outcome.
Hartery said the provincial government should follow the federal government's lead and tighten up the rules.
In the 2008 federal election, voters needed to show proof of identity, along with their voter registration card, in an effort to curb voter fraud.
Mike Quinn, the province' chief electoral officer, said New Brunswick has never required identification for provincial or municipal elections and relies on the honour system.
"The main thing is to get people out to vote and requiring ID, it makes it a little bit onerous on some segments of society," Quinn said.
"I don't think that we've had a problem with not having ID requirements."
Elections New Brunswick was also facing problems in the southeastern riding of Kent where Liberal Leader Shawn Graham was re-elected.
Ballots were being recounted Tuesday after irregularities at a polling station.
Polling staff on the Elsipogtog First Nation ran out of ballots after large crowds showed up at the station late in the day on Monday.
Elections New Brunswick officials had planned for 600 voters to show up to the polling station on the reserve. Instead, 800 to 1,000 voters cast ballots.
On Monday night, the riding's polls were left open after 8 p.m. to allow people who were lined up at polling stations to vote.
Graham won the riding with 56 per cent of the vote, almost 2,000 more votes than his nearest rival, Tory Bruce Hickey.