The third-place candidate in the recent Chase mayoral election has filed a petition to the court declaring the results of the election invalid.
In a Notice of Civil Claim filed with the BC Supreme Court in Kamloops on Nov. 21, Beverley Ann Fernande Iglesias claims there are irregularities with the addresses of 12 people who voted in the Chase mayoral election and that hosting the elections for Thompson Nicola Regional District director, school district trustee and Chase municipal government at the same location caused confusion for voters.
Iglesias is petitioning the court to declare the election invalid and so force another election for Chase’s mayor and council.
The notice of claim names the Village of Chase and Sean O’Flaherty, a village employee, who acted as chief election officer as defendants for the election on Oct. 20.
Twelve voters who cast a ballot deciding Chase’s mayor and council are named in the notice of claim as ineligible to cast a ballot.
The document filed with the court states seven people who voted did so after registering with addresses outside the village boundaries. According to the notice of claim, a further four voters listed their addresses as businesses or commercial buildings.
“At least four individuals who voted in the municipal election were ineligible, as their residential addresses declared were Chase businesses or commercial/industrial buildings. Applications by the landowner to the Village of Chase for residential suites were not apparent,” the document reads.
The document also says one voter’s residential address could not be substantiated.
The validity of the 12 ballots mentioned in the document are especially important as the mayoral race was decided by only 11 votes. Rod Crowe won the election with 256 votes; he was followed by David Lepsoe with 245 votes. Iglesias was 56 votes behind Crowe.
Along with the alleged ineligible votes, Iglesias’ court filing also claims that campaign signs in favour of Crowe were placed on a residential property on Adams Lake Indian Band land and also beside the roadway over the bridge leading from Chase to the Adams Lake Indian Band reserve.
“Such ‘Vote for Mayor’ sign(s) could have misled reserve residents to believe they were eligible to vote in the Village of Chase municipal election,” the document reads.
According to the notice of claim, a petition in support of Iglesias’ application to the court is being circulated in Chase.
Iglesias told the Shuswap Market News she submitted the civil claim to the court because she is concerned with the fairness and legality of the election – she added there is a large group of people in Chase who share her concerns and they are helping circulate her petition. She hopes her legal action will lead to an examination of the election processes to see how the allegedly ineligible voters were able to cast a ballot.
Iglesias said she believes there are more ineligible voters who cast a ballot than the 12 named in her court filing.
On Nov. 21 O’Flaherty said the village has not been served court documents yet and so has not begun trying to verify or disprove the claims made in the document.
He added that the election was conducted in good faith and within the confines of the Local Government Act.
O’Flaherty stressed that voters sign a declaration stating they reside in the Village of Chase amongst other qualifications and that the onus is on them to know whether they are eligible to vote.