British Columbia

Tie in Peachland mayor's race means decision could come down to a draw

An unofficial recount shows incumbent Cindy Fortin and challenger Harry Gough each with 804 votes.

An unofficial recount shows incumbent Cindy Fortin and challenger Harry Gough each with 804 votes

An unofficial recount shows Peachland Mayor Cindy Fortin (left) and challenger Harry Gough each have 804 votes. (CBC)

The race to become mayor of Peachland could come down to a simple draw after an unofficial recount showed incumbent Cindy Fortin and challenger Harry Gough tied with 804 votes apiece. 

Gough was originally declared the winner by a single vote, but according to a statement released by Peachland's chief election officer, a voting machine malfunction caused one cast ballot to be missed on election day. 

"A voting machine misfed a ballot which caused the voting machine to jam," said Polly Palmer.

"The machine prompted the presiding election official to reinsert the ballot, but before the official could do so, the misfed ballot landed in the sealed ballot box. This was immediately reported to the chief elections officer, who made note of the issue.

Vote counting machines, such as this one from the recent election in Ontario, were also used by some municipalities in B.C. in the recent civic election. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

The recount was conducted on Monday with both Fortin and Gough present. 

Palmer says she will be applying for a judicial recount of the mayor's ballot.

If the tie still stands, the next step will be to determine a winner "by the drawing of lot, pursuant to the district's Election Procedures Bylaw no. 2235."

In a social media post, Fortin said addresses of voters will also be verified as part of the review process to ensure only valid residents cast ballots.

'​Bewildering' outcome

Cindy Fortin, who was a councillor before she was the mayor, says the tie has left her in "limbo." 

"I still have work to do, of course, so I'm doing that," Fortin said. "But at the same time, I just wish this was decided now so I could know which direction is going to go ... It was just bewildering on how it could be so close."

Fortin was also surprised by the fact the mayoralty could ultimately decided by a draw.

"Going back and looking at the procedure bylaw, we did make that decision," she said. "It's so routine that I never thought in a million years there would be a tie."

She said she would decide differently now.

"I really would prefer a run-off election," she said. "I think this is too great of a decision to make by just pulling a name."

Regardless, Fortin said she would accept the final decision. 

"I'll take a closer look at it, but I'll accept it."

Challenger Harry Gough could not be reached for comment. 

Two mayoral candidates for Peachland, B.C. tied for the most votes. CBC's Justin McElroy explains what happens next. 1:18
The election in Peachland is heading for a judicial recount because the incumbent and the challenger each received 804 votes. 9:55

With files from Daybreak South

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