Human error, missing documents delayed Kitchener-Conestoga vote count

Elections Canada says human error was to blame for a delay in reporting results in a close race in the Kitchener-Conestoga riding in Ontario after the polls closed in Monday's federal election.

Elections Canada says deputy returning officer took paperwork home after counting

Liberal Tim Louis, left, and Conservative Harold Albrecht were in a neck-and-neck race in the Ontario riding of Kitchener-Conestoga. In the end Tuesday, Elections Canada said Liberal candidate Louis had won the election, with 305 votes separating him and Albrecht. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Elections Canada says human error was to blame for a delay in reporting results in a close race in the Kitchener-Conestoga riding in Ontario after the polls closed in Monday's federal election.

Réjean Grenier, regional media adviser for Elections Canada for Ontario, said Tuesday it appears a deputy returning officer — possibly more than one — accidentally sealed two copies of a summary of the votes, called the statement of vote, in the ballot boxes from five polls.

"Some people made human errors and did not send the tally to the returning office," he said.

The returning officer and his staff had to track down people who were in charge of those polls to get the tally, he told CBC News.

Three copies are always made of the summary. One is to go in the ballot box, one goes to the returning officer and one goes home with the deputy returning officer as a backup, Elections Canada spokesperson Diane Benson said.

In this case, both the ballot box copy and the returning officer copy of the results were sealed in the ballot boxes for the five polls, Benson said.

The ballot boxes were then sent back to the returning office.

Around noon Tuesday, Elections Canada told CBC Kitchener-Waterloo that Liberal candidate Tim Louis had won the election, with 305 votes separating him and Conservative incumbent Harold Albrecht.

The close result is déjà vu for the riding, which saw Albrecht beat Louis by 251 votes in 2015.

Validation of the vote 

Benson said it's expected "in the next few days, the returning officer will complete what's known as the validation of the vote. We should have more complete numbers then."

Every poll in Canada goes through a validation process that's set to begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

The Elections Canada website said a validation of the results of a vote is performed by the returning officer within the week after polling day.

"The returning officer validates the results in the presence of the assistant returning officer, and any candidates or their representatives or, if none are present, at least two electors," the website said. 

That count is what is then referred to as the "official result." 

If after validation there is a tie, a byelection would be held.


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