Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu candidate cries foul over missing Inuktitut name
Methusalah Kunuk wants partial refund of campaign expenses
Methusalah Kunuk, a losing candidate in the Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu riding during Nunavut’s Oct. 28 territorial election is crying foul because Elections Nunavut did not put the Inuktitut version of his name on the ballot.
“We didn’t know about it until someone in the advanced poll [said] there was no Inuktitut,” Kunuk told Nunatsiaq News.
Kunuk said any “unilingual person would have had a problem” when voting for him.
He ended up finishing third, with 81 votes, well behind Pat Angnakak, who won the seat with 151.
Kunuk’s campaign manager, Ainiak Korgak, said he submitted Kunuk’s English and Inuktitut name to Iqaluit’s Election’s Nunavut office “well in advance” of the election — around the end of September.
Candidates must fill in their own names to avoid conflicts, Nunavut’s chief electoral officer Sandy Kusugak said.
In Nunavut elections, people may choose if they want English, Inuktitut, or both to appear on the ballot.
“People get to choose if they want to have the name in one language or the two language forms — in other words English [and/or] syllabics and which order they want it in,” she said.
Kusugak said Kunuk submitted two versions of his declaration of candidacy to the returning officer in Iqaluit — the first in English, the second in Inuktitut syllabics.
But elections staff missed the second form, she said.
Korgak called the mistake an “unfortunate error,” and said it could have changed the result if the final vote had been closer.
Kusugak attributes it to human error, but said this was the only incident involving a discrepancy in languages.
“It’s really regrettable. But the facts are that human beings work in the election, and there are mistakes. However, it’s unfortunate who it effects, and it’s never intentional,” Kusugak said.
Kusugak said the Inuktitut declaration of candidacy from that would have been sent to the Elections Nunavut headquarters office in Rankin Inlet from Iqaluit just “wasn’t noticed.”
“We’re very small here. So when Methusalah brought that to my attention, it’s when the [early] voting had taken place,” she said.
By that time it was too late to reprint the ballots, which are printed by a firm in Yellowknife.
To rectify the situation, Elections Nunavut reprinted one of Kunuk’s posters bearing his Inuktitut name, and hung it in the cadet hall while votes were taking place.
However, Kunuk said his Inuktitut name was spelled incorrectly on that poster.
“My Inuktitut [name] that was put on there was not exactly the same,” he said.
Korgak and Kunuk will not formally complain to Elections Nunavut because of the big gap in votes between him and the winner.
Kunuk did say, however, that he might be interested in getting refunded for some portion of his candidate expenses.
All candidates can be refunded the $200 they submit to enter the election, 60 days after the election is over.