New Brunswick election 2014 results: Tories demand hand count after vote count fiasco
Problems with vote tabulation system grind results to a halt with outcome hanging in balance
The New Brunswick Progressive Conservatives say they won't accept Monday's election result until all ballots are counted by hand.
Vote tallying through a system of electronic tabulation machines ground to a halt Monday night with the Liberals apparently clinging to a one-seat majority, leading or elected in 25 ridings. The Conservatives were at 23, with the Green Party leading in the other seat.
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Shortly before midnight, Progressive Conservative president Jason Stephen publicly called for a hand count of all the ballots.
"It's fundamental that every voter and every vote be cast properly. Clearly there has been a problem with tabulation machines in some ridings," Stephen said.
"We're calling on Elections New Brunswick to count every vote by hand," he said.
"Regrettably it's best to make sure all votes are counted properly, and at that time we will accept the outcome of the election from the New Brunswick population."
The electronic system of having voters insert their ballot into a tabulator that would automatically add the votes at the close of the polls was touted as possibly the way of the future in Canada.
But as discrepancies emerged in vote counts with the election outcome in the balance, Elections New Brunswick stopped updating the vote tally for more than 90 minutes.
In many ridings, only the votes in one of the tabulators remained to be counted. By 11 p.m., three hours after the polls closed, not a single riding had 100 per cent of its votes counted.
Chief electoral officer Mike Quinn issued a statement late Monday, saying that at 10:30 p.m. Elections NB staff who were monitoring the results noted some of the results entered manually were not being replaced properly with the results being uploaded from the tabulators' memory data cards.
"As a result, to ensure the results shared with the public did not provide incorrect information, Elections NB halted updates until we can verify the information."
"As this continues, we will further update the results using only machine reported numbers, as we have complete faith that these results are reporting properly," Quinn said.
"There may be delays until all tabulators have reported, but we have to ensure all results are accurate before releasing them to the media and public."
Quinn told CBC News he did not think a manual recount is necessary.
"There is no question that this process tonight has had delays which were unforseen and uncalled for," he said.
"There is no question in our mind we will come up with the correct result. It will be longer than we anticipated and we wanted, but we will have the correct result."
Green Party Leader David Coon called the handling of the results "a fiasco."
Once results starting pouring in again, the Liberals were leading or elected in 27 ridings to 21 for the PCs and one for the Greens.