Judge orders new school election in Pelly Crossing

A Yukon Supreme Court judge has ordered a new council election for the school in Pelly Crossing. The elections at Eliza Van Bibber School were held May 5.

2The elections at Eliza Van Bibber School were held May 5. In all, nine candidates competed for six positions on the school council.

Two proxy ballots were mistakenly counted during the voting even though they shouldn’t have been allowed.

When the final numbers were counted, two votes was the exact difference that separated the sixth and final winner from seventh place.

The Yukon’s chief electoral officer went to court to find out what to do.

In his decision Justice Leigh Gower acknowledged that counting the proxy ballots was an unintentional mistake.

“The returning officer now realizes that she was in error … but at all times was acting in good faith and to the best of her understanding of the election process,” he said.

The law around school elections only allows in-person voting, possibly with the assistance of a friend or relative, or mail-in voting.

The election was the first one for a Pelly Crossing school council since 1991. All the other school councils after that were chosen by acclamation.

A total of 106 votes were cast. That’s about one third of the total population of the community.

“It would appear that the

election was hotly contested,” Gower said.

“The atmosphere in and around the polling station during the voting was highly charged. At one point, the RCMP attended to speak with the returning officer.”

There was never any dispute over the fact that a mistake was made. The only real question was how to fix it.

At a hearing earlier this month, there was some discussion over whether or not invalidating two votes would mean there was now a tie between sixth and seventh place.

Under the law, ties are decided by a drawing of lots,

But that rule only applies in elections that were handled legally, the judge said. In this case the election was invalid for all the candidates, not just those two.

No date has been set yet for when the new election will

take place.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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