Yarmouth Justice Centre. Tina Comeau photo
By Tina Comeau
A hearing aimed at determining whether to void the election results in District 5 in the Municipality of Argyle will be heard in Yarmouth Supreme Court on Jan. 24.
On Nov. 22 the lawyer representing Malcolm Madden – the incumbent who lost the seat to Nicole Albright by two votes – appeared in Supreme Court, along with lawyers for the Municipality of Argyle and Albright.
The municipality hasn’t yet determined whether it will contest the application, but Argyle’s solicitor, Real Boudreau, said they would be complying with defence requests for information.
Albright’s lawyer, Martin Pink, said she is not contesting the application and will abide by the court ruling. Her involvement in the court matter is just as an observer, said Pink.
Hugh Robichaud, Madden’s lawyer, told Justice Pierre Muise he hoped to see this matter make its way through the court as expeditiously as possible since there is public interest in its outcome, especially if it means a new election, and also because a drawn-out process means more expense for the parties.
Still, there are procedures to follow and documents to file and those timeframes were worked out by the lawyers and the judge, which pushes back when a hearing can be held.
Part of the issue before the court is the fact that two people who voted in District 1 during the election should have voted in District 5, because that is where they reside, said Robichaud,
But he told the court that isn’t the information the couple in question was given on election day, Oct. 20, when they inquired at a polling station at Ecole Secondaire de Par-en-Bas as to what district they resided in and should vote in. He said following a phone call made by the polling station workers to another location, the two voters were given PINs to cast their vote electronically or by telephone in District 1, which is where they were told they resided.
In court last Thursday, Robichaud told the judge he didn’t yet know who was on the other end of that telephone call. He said an explanation needs to be provided about how on election day two people could have been given PINs for a district they didn’t live in. Robichaud referred to a section of the Municipal Elections Act that states the qualification of voters could not be challenged or changed on the day of the election.
“The electorate is most interested in a timely resolution of this matter,” said Robichaud. “This is a matter that involves voter confidence.”
There was also reference in court about land surveys and boundaries that are being looked into.
Albright was declared the winner on election night with 302 votes compared to 300 votes for Madden. She was sworn in on Nov. 13.
The Supreme Court hearing on Jan. 24 has been set for 1:30 p.m.