New Brunswick

Tories press attempt to undo Saint John Harbour results

Progressive Conservatives have produced documents they claim show widespread irregularities in a Saint John riding, including people who voted more than once, a voter who declared an empty lot as a home address, and two ballots cast in the name of dead people.

PCs claim voting irregularities occurred in riding the Liberals won by 10-vote margin

PC candidate Barry Ogden, left, and his team have renewed their attempt to have the election results in Saint John Harbour thrown out. Ogden lost to Liberal Gerry Lowe by 10 votes on Sept. 24. (CBC)

New Brunswick Progressive Conservatives have renewed their effort to have results from last month's election in Saint John Harbour set aside, producing documents they claim show widespread irregularities, including people who voted more than once, one voter who declared an empty lot as a home address and two ballots cast in the name of dead people.

The PC party does not allege that Liberals were behind the irregularities, or that they benefited Liberal candidate Gerry Lowe, who won the seat by 10 votes over Tory Barry Ogden.

The PCs only allege that with so many problems occurring in a tight contest, the integrity of the election is in doubt.

"The electoral procedures set out in the Elections Act and the applicable regulations were not properly followed in a manner that may have altered the outcome of the election," wrote PC lawyer Kelly VanBuskirk in the application filed Friday and amended Monday.

PC lawyer Kelly VanBuskirk says Elections Act regulations were not followed in Saint John Harbour. (CBC)

Lowe was sworn into office last week and will be a critical vote for Liberals as Premier Brian Gallant attempts to form a government with just 21 seats in the 49-seat legislature.

The PCs originally initiated a court application of the Saint John Harbour result three weeks ago, alleging at least 40 different voters in the riding were recorded as casting ballots twice. But they temporarily withdrew the filing after discovering a challenge could not proceed until after a vote recount in the riding was complete.

The recount confirmed Lowe's 10-vote win on Oct. 3, and the PCs refiled claims of double voting on Friday with documents to substantiate the claim.

I became concerned about the use of ... deceased persons.- Peter Josselyn, PC riding president

The party also added new accusations of deceased voters casting ballots and a phantom address being used by a third person.

In an affidavit sworn by Peter Josselyn, the Saint John Harbour PC riding president, the party claims a review of public obituaries show two votes cast at polling station inside Saint John's Rocmaura Nursing Home were from people who had died prior to Aug. 23, the day the election writs were issued.

Progressive Conservatives allege someone used this empty lot at 42 Exmouth St. as an address when voting. (Brian Chisholm/CBC)

"I became concerned about the use of ... deceased persons," Josselyn says in his affidavit.

Referred to the voters only as elector number 11, "the first deceased elector," and elector number 102, "the second deceased elector," Josselyn says both cast votes at the nursing home and had them counted as part of Saint John Harbour poll number 16.

According to Elections New Brunswick, Ogden beat Lowe in that poll  9-4, but Josselyn says PCs had nothing to do with any votes that may have been cast there in the names of dead people.

"Neither I nor anyone else associated with the Saint John Harbour Progressive Conservative Riding Association or the Progressive Conservative Party of New Brunswick have any direct knowledge that ... deceased persons were used in relation to the general provincial election of September 24, 2018, in Saint John Harbour," his affidavit reads.

Josselyn also raises questions about one vote cast by a person claiming to live in Apartment 1 at 42 Exmouth St. since the address is a vacant lot, and he repeats accusations first made three weeks ago that 40 voters appeared to cast ballots twice.

Rocmaura Nursing Home in Saint John is one polling station where voting irregularities occurred, PC party officials allege. (Brian Chisholm/CBC)

Josselyn says he reviewed the statement of elector forms in his possession and "on some occasions, more than one vote was cast under the same unique combined poll number and elector number."

Each voter is assigned a unique combined poll number and elector number and once a vote is cast, is supposed to be struck from the list of electors.

"Accordingly, in completing the statement of electors, a given elector's combined poll number and elector number should appear only one time," the affidavit states.

But of the forms he has reviewed, Josselyn contends there are "approximately 40 instances in which a unique combined poll number and elector number appears twice."

The PCs say polling sheets like these appear to show that voter number 186 voted twice on election day at the Market Square seniors apartments. That voter number is recorded once on a sheet that documents those who voted between 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. It appears again on a sheet that shows those who voted between 2:15 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. (CBC)

The accusations involve eight of 11 polling stations across the riding, which stretches from Mount Pleasant, where billionaire Arthur Irving lives, to the subsidized apartments in the north end, the working-class lower west side and the south end.

The stations include the Carleton Community Centre, Carleton Kirk United Church, St. Luke's Church Hall, Wright Street Housing Community Hall, Market Square senior apartments, Saint John Boys & Girls Club, Vineyard Christian Fellowship and InterAction Theatre, he contends.

Some of the alleged instances occurred during advance polls, while others occurred on election night, according to Josselyn's affidavit.

Justice Hugh McLellan Court of Queen's Bench has scheduled a hearing for next Monday to begin looking into the accusations.