Elections N.S. investigating after NDP polling firm error
Wrong name used for Liberal candidate in Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River
Elections Nova Scotia says a polling firm hired by the provincial New Democrats is the subject of an investigation after a complaint that a Liberal candidate was misidentified during a survey.
New Democratic Leader Darrell Dexter confirmed there was a problem with the poll conducted in the riding of Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River.
"As far as I understand it, it was a mistake made in one riding but we use the most current list that we have," Dexter said.
Elections Nova Scotia said Tuesday it received information that residents in the riding received calls from a polling company that provided them a list of candidates and asked about voter preference.
The Liberal candidate for Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River is Barry Mellish, but the polling firm was mistakenly using the name Scott Hagell.
Dexter was asked during a campaign stop in Halifax whether his party was trying to suppress the vote through faulty polling information.
"Of course not," he said. "Polling is expensive and it's a very precious resource and nobody would waste it in that fashion."
Later on Wednesday, the New Democratic Party admitted to being responsible for a second problem poll in the election — the Ontario polling firm it had hired was using the wrong name for the Progressive Conservative candidate in Timberlea-Prospect.
Evan Price, the campaign manager for Mellish, said the confusion could cost the Liberal candidate votes if voters choose to submit a write-in ballot.
"Were somebody to receive a phone call that indicated that a candidate was other than the actual candidate and were that voter to write down the name of the misinformed name, then that vote would be discounted," said Price.
"There is a very real chance in confusing the voters."
'This is just an honest mistake'
Residents can vote at the returning office in each electoral district from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day except Sundays, up to and including the Thursday before election day, Oct. 8.
When residents vote in that manner, they're given a ballot on which to write either the name of the candidate or the registered party they want to vote for.
"Were that voter to write down the name of the misinformed name, then that vote would be discounted," said Price, adding that it's difficult to understand how the NDP could get a candidate's name wrong in polling.
Jill Marzetti, the NDP campaign director for the province, said the party was not trying to confuse or mislead voters in the riding.
"Absolutely not. This is just an honest mistake. It does happen in politics when you have a number of lists going through the system," she said.
"We are making sure that those lists are now up to date and remedy that problem."
Marzetti said 45 voters have been contacted by the polling firm and supplied the wrong name over the past 10 days.
She said the NDP supplied the firm with the name of the Liberal who ran in Truro-Bible Hill in the 2009 provincial election, Bob Hagell. From there, the polling firm began using the name Scott Hagell.
In addition to Mellish, the other registered candidates for Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River are Charles Cox for the Progressive Conservatives and incumbent Lenore Zann for the NDP.
With files from The Canadian Press