Judge to do recounts Nov. 5 for Nunavut’s two hung ridings
If recounts fail, Elections Nunavut would turn to by-election method
Get ready for recounts, Nunavut.
The ridings of Uqqummiut and Rankin Inlet South each ended up in a dead heat after the Oct. 28 territorial election.
That means ballots from the two constituencies will be recounted in Iqaluit next week by Justice Sue Cooper.
Niore Iqalukjuak and Samuel Nuqingaq finished with 187 votes each in Uqqummiut, which is comprised of Clyde River and Qikiqtarjuaq.
The necessary applications for the two judicial recounts have been filed on behalf of each constituency and the recount will likely occur Tuesday, Nov. 5, Elections Nunavut lawyer Patrick Orr said.
The court has set aside Nov. 4, 5 and 6 for the recount.
Orr said results will be posted by Elections Nunavut shortly after the recounts, on Twitter, Facebook and the Elections Nunavut website.
Constituency returning officers, the chief electoral officer, and any candidates or lawyers representing candidates may attend the recount, which will happen either in a courtroom or a hearing room, Orr said.
“The judge will open the box, and perhaps with the assistance of the returning officer, go through each ballot and recount them,” Orr said.
Orr said that “new tally sheets will be done and the judge will certify the result.”
One contentious issue that might swing the vote either way is rejected ballots.
That’s when a ballot that is marked incorrectly, such as being marked with two Xs instead of one, or bearing writing on it that could identify the voter.
There were six rejected ballots in Rankin Inlet South, and two in Uqqummiut.
But the judge may look at those rejected ballots closely to see if they can, in fact, be accepted.
“I think it’s unlikely in Rankin Inlet South. Since I know, I think there were only [a few] rejected ballots and they were pretty clearly within the bounds in which they were rejected,” said Orr, who had been in Rankin Inlet during the vote.
“For Uqqummiut — there could be something that was missed, or something else could have happened. That’s why we have a judge going over it,” he said.
Recounts that end in a tie would trigger a by-election.
A by-election must be held at least 35 days after the recount — but Nunavummiut may have to wait longer, Orr said, because that would bring the date too close to the Christmas-New Year season.
“These are the factors that need to be weighed, but we’ll do our best and we’ll make it a time where it suits, and will be in the public interest,” Orr said.
That means a by-election would more likely occur in early 2014.
Any eligible Nunavut voter may run in the by-election.
But with Nunavut’s leadership forum coming up mid-November that means candidates in the by-election could miss out on being selected as a cabinet minister or as premier.
Orr said he doesn’t know if the leadership forum could be pushed back.
“That’s something that caucus will determine when they meet. And it’s the privilege of the members to make a decision on that,” Orr said.
“Traditionally what they’ve done is select a premier and then they might hold off on a cabinet position or so in case,” he said
“If they know by next week that’s there’s only one by-election or no by-election, then it’s a moot point.”
Lorne Kusugak, the incumbent MLA for the old riding of Rankin Inlet South-Whale Cove, said missing the leadership forum isn’t an issue for him — he never had any intentions of running for the premier’s position, or for cabinet.
“It’s always been the assumption of the media that Lorne, if elected, was going to run for leadership or cabinet. I never said I was running or was interested in any of those positions,” Kusugak said.
“I’m sure there’s a lot of qualified people there and they’ll choose a good leader and good cabinet.”
But for now, Kusugak is just playing the “long waiting game” until the recount.