Two candidates in the Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas PC race are claiming voter fraud after a heated nomination meeting they say involved ballot box stuffing.
'Our jaws were on the floor. We couldn't believe it.' - Jeff Peller
Vikram Singh and Jeff Peller have both appealed to the Ontario PC Party regarding a nomination meeting Peller says was "the biggest undemocratic shit show I've ever witnessed."
It happened on May 7, when Ben Levitt, a 25-year-old staffer in Conservative MP David Sweet's office, won the candidacy for the 2018 provincial election.
The Ontario PC party hasn't commented on the allegations, nor has Levitt's team.
Levitt, who had support from former federal cabinet minister John Baird, won primarily based on the votes cast at the credentials table, Singh's team says in the filing.
There were seven regular voting tables, and Singh won those tables combined, the appeal claims. But those with issues on the list — a misspelled name or incorrect address, for example — were sent to the credentials table.
Party officials were at that table, Singh's filing says. And Levitt won 202 of 345 of the ballots counted there to Singh's 78 — enough to win Levitt the nomination.
'I've got some fight left in me.' - Jeff Peller
The party also failed to substantiate the ballots at that desk, the appeal claims. This happened despite "repeated requests to count the credentials desk registration forms."
"The inability of the party officials to operate in good faith has put into question the entire nomination process," it says.
While the party hasn't commented, leader Patrick Brown told media five days ago that auditors from PricewaterhouseCoopers will monitor future nomination meetings because the party is seeing "more energized" contests.
The Toronto Star reports that two other nominations — Newmarket-Aurora and Ottawa West-Nepean — are also being challenged.
Peller has made similar allegations to Singh, adding that many of his supporters were turned away at the credentials table.
And the meeting itself, he said, was a rowdy, hostile, impatient affair.
"There was a two-hour window for 4,300 people to vote," he said. "It was a very hostile and unsafe environment. My wife was pushed. Our jaws were on the floor. We couldn't believe it."
The Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas race was destined to be a heated one. Brown has touted it a riding for the taking if Ted McMeekin, current Liberal MPP, decides to retire.
The Singh appeal focuses on how many ballots can be processed in a two-hour window when workers would have to validate identification and addresses along the way.
For all 345 to be valid, and Levitt to win, the appeal says, that would mean one person every 26 seconds.
Singh's appeal asks for him to be declared the winner. Peller wants the party to reconsider what he calls an "impugned candidate result."
"I've got some fight left in me," Peller said.
The notices of appeal are directed at Rick Dykstra, president of the Ontario PC party, and Bob Stanley, executive director of the party. Singh's also mentions staff Logan Bugeja.