'Very serious allegations,' Essex councillor-elects split on proxy investigation

Not all members of the new council in the Town of Essex are concerned about the ongoing investigation into voter fraud.

Ward 3 councillor-elect says the issue has been overblown

Residents have raised concerns of potential voter fraud and OPP are investigating. (Town of Essex)

With Town of Essex residents wanting to know if the election has been compromised, several candidates expressed their take on the ongoing investigation into concerns of voter fraud.

"These are very serious allegations but do not expect these allegations to be resolved on social media," wrote Joe Garon, a newly-elected councillor for Ward 1.

Days after the municipal election, Ward 4 Coun. Sherry Bondy said she has heard people allege their elderly parents couldn't vote because the town said they had already voted by proxy — even though that was not the case.

Two formal complaints had been filed and Essex OPP are investigating.

CBC News also obtained and examined 94 proxies filed for this election in Essex and found 31 of the forms were incorrectly filled, but still signed off by the clerk.

Garon said he has "full confidence in the process" and thinks the matter will be dealt with.

Appointment for voting proxy forms. (Ministry of Municipal Affairs)

However, councillor-elect for Ward 3 Chris Vander Doelen is not concerned like Bondy is about potential fraud, saying it's "overblown fuss."

"One of the voters was 87, I've been told. Forgive the poor woman for forgetting she'd told someone else months before she would vote by proxy," he wrote.

His sentiment echoes that of outgoing mayor Ron McDermott, who was sure things were "done above board."

According to Vander Doelen, the 94 proxy votes were not enough to "affect most of the winners and losers, if any." And the fact that double voting did not take place showed how well the system works.

Ron Rogers, a mayoral candidate who lost to Larry Snively by 117 votes, said even if the election had turned out differently this issue would still receive a lot of attention.

Carl Wilson Jr. name written on a proxy paper for the Town of Essex. His signature, which is required, is not found on the form anywhere. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

"Current members of council as well as members elected to the next council should all take this very seriously and demand answers and assurance that those responsible are held accountable."

The Town of Essex said they will not be providing comment as it is an ongoing investigation.