North

Official results reveal where the N.W.T.'s battleground ridings were won and lost

A detailed breakdown of the vote tally shows communities were divided over who to support in several ridings.

Detailed count shows divided communities in several ridings

If 64-page election reports don't excite you, then this cover art surely will. Official election results, tabled earlier this month in the N.W.T. Legislature, detail the behind-the-scenes drama of election night. (Elections NWT)

If you thought election night in the N.W.T. was dramatic, wait until you read the 64-page Territorial General Election 2019 Official Results Report.

It may lack the panache of victory parties and a live studio production, but the official results, tabled earlier this month in the N.W.T. Legislature, detail the behind-the-scenes drama of election night.

And in the N.W.T.'s vast and diverse ridings, high turnout from a single community can sink — or sustain — a candidate.

Take Nunakput led the territory in turnout at 72 per cent. There, Tuktoyaktuk's Jackie Jacobson saw off incumbent Herb Nakimayak despite earning only one vote from Sachs Harbour, one of four communities in the riding.

Nakimayak could count on strong hometown support in Paulatuk — but his 62-vote lead there was swamped by Tutkoyaktuk's 136 votes for Jacobson — to Nakimayak's six.

Detailed turnout for the Nunakput riding shows incumbent Herb Nakimayak enjoyed strong support in his home community of Paulatuk. (Elections NWT)

In the Sahtu, it's a similar story of communities divided in who to support. The night produced a tight three-way race between incumbent Danny McNeely, winner Paulie Chinna and challenger Caroline Yukon.

While Caroline Yukon enjoyed the overwhelming support of her hometown of Deline, she earned only three votes in the riding's largest community, Norman Wells.

Unlike Yukon, neither Chinna nor McNeely could count on hometown support. McNeely trailed Chinna in his hometown of Fort Good Hope, and Chinna trailed McNeely in her home of Norman Wells and in neighbouring Tulita.

But in the end, modest leads in the other Sahtu communities — and Deline's overwhelming vote for Yukon — handed Chinna the victory.

Detailed turnout for the Sahtu shows the riding's five communities split the vote between three candidates. (Elections NWT)

Łutsël K'é turns out for Norn — but not really

But it was Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh that produced the most divided race of the night.

Official results say a substantial turnout for Steve Norn in Łutsël K'é handed him the win.

But Norn says the official results are wrong — the 131 votes counted for Norn from Łutsël K'é actually came from his hometown of Fort Resolution.

There, he led the other candidates by more than 100 votes. In the riding's other three communities, he was a distant second, third and fourth.

I think it's quite likely an error got introduced during the design phase.- Nicole Latour, N.W.T. chief electoral officer

The other communities never united behind an alternative candidate. According to the report, Dettah and N'dilo split between Rick Edjericon and Lila Fraser Erasmsus, while Fort Resolution preferred Paul Betsina in the end.

Norn says the numbers for Fort Resolution are actually those for Dettah, and the numbers for Dettah are actually from N'dilo. The numbers attributed to N'dilo, he says, are actually from Łutsël K'é.

On Monday afternoon, N.W.T.'s chief electoral officer Nicole Latour said she's reviewed the numbers, and they "look suspicious."

"I think it's quite likely an error got introduced during the design phase," she said.

Steve Norn won Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh with most of his votes coming from a single community — but he says those votes actually came from Fort Resolution, not Łutsel Kʼe. (Elections NWT)

Latour said the Elections NWT office is closed until Thursday while the territorial government is on mandatory leave. But an update to the report, with accurate numbers, should be issued shortly.

"It's the official report, so it has to be accurate," said Latour. "I'll turn my attention to it right away."

In any case, none of the challengers counted more from a whole riding than the 131 votes Norn says he took from Fort Resolution alone.

Online voting not first choice for voters

Despite heavy promotion, online voter turnout accounted for a tiny percentage of ballots cast in its debut election.

Just under four per cent of votes were cast online — and only 16 per cent of those were cast in advance of polling day.

Advance voting was most popular in ridings where high-profile incumbents were defeated — such as Thebacha, where former justice minister Lou Sebert was ousted by Salt River First Nation Chief Freida Martselos, and Hay River South, where former infrastructure minister Wally Schumann lost his seat to Rocky Simpson, Sr.

As in past elections, voting at the office of the returning officer was the favourite method of advance polling.

As usual in N.W.T. elections, higher than expected turnout exposed gaps in the lists of electors. In Nahanni Butte, official turnout was over 163 per cent, as many more voters showed up to the polls than had been previously registered.

The same was true in Fort Resolution, where turnout was calculated at 114 per cent.

For the lowest turnout, look to residents of Yellowknife's Gitzel Street — in particular, the residents of the Matonabee, Fort Gary, Ridgeview, and McNiven apartments — whose turnout is listed at just 16 per cent.

It's not clear how online and advance votes are included in the turnout calculations.

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