Port Moody looks to update elections bylaw following recount controversy

Amy Lubik and Dave Stuart were tied after a judicial recount of two polls led to six more votes. photo supplied

The City of Port Moody may revamp its election bylaws around recounts.

The move follows the 2022 municipal election in which a partial judicial recount resulted in a tie.

Coun. Amy Lubik, who displaced Dave Stuart to win her seat by a blind hat draw following the tie, said she wanted staff to bring some recommendations to council at the Jan. 10 meeting.

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Lubik said there were several ties and extremely close counts during the most recent election cycle, and she wants the public to feel confident of the outcomes in future counts.

“I would like to move a motion that staff create some sort of recommendation for when we do have very close margins, such that there’s always some sort of hand count, (or) automatic recount,” Lubik said.

Staff said they will be bringing forth some amendments to the election bylaw, as they recognized there were issues during their election debriefing following the results.

They said they are currently reaching out to other municipalities to determine best practices, and looking at similar mechanisms across the region.

“Of course, one of the provisions that we are likely to be looking at is a mechanism for triggering automatic recount as you mentioned,” staff said.

The use of voting machines for recounts was questioned by Lubik and Dave Stuart – her competitor for the sixth and final seat on council – after 25 discrepancies were found following the city’s informal recount.

Lubik, who trailed Stuart by two votes following the first recount, requested the judicial recount after each candidate lost one vote each. 

The provincial judge, however, only granted a hand recount of the two polls where Lubik and Stuart had lost a vote. 

Lubik’s tally went up four and Stuart’s went up by two, resulting in a tie of 3,597 votes each.

Both candidates wanted all 10 of the city’s polls recounted. 

In Lubik’s affidavit requesting the provincial recount, she said the city’s recount had started before the candidates were told when and where it was taking place, contrary to the city’s election bylaws.

Following Lubik’s win, her campaign finance manager, Neal Nicholson, criticized the city’s methodology for recounts, which he described as just rerunning the ballots through the voting machines.

Federal judicial recounts are automatic if the margin is less than one one-thousandth of the total votes cast, and both federal and provincial counts are done by hand.

Nicholson said that voting machines are not infallible when it comes to very small margins between vote counts.

He said that he believes more discrepancies would have been found if all 10 polls were recounted.

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