Recount: Fortin re-elected

Madison Erhardt

UPDATE: 4:15 p.m.

Cindy Fortin gave out a long sigh of relief when Madam Justice Ellen Burdett declared her mayor of Peachland for the next four years.

After nine days and three vote counts failed to determine a winner, Burdett was forced to place the names of Fortin and challenger Harry Gough into a box and pull out the winning name.

"I declare Cindy Fortin elected as mayor," said Burdett after a three-and-a-half hour judicial recount left the two candidates deadlocked with 804 votes apiece.

During the recount Monday, each of the six ballot boxes was opened separately. Ballots were separated into piles for each of the five candidates, then counted one by one under the watchful eye of both candidates or their representatives.

Only one vote total changed. A vote was added to Keith Thom's total after one elector indicated their vote by making a mark to the right of his name, not the left.

Another six ballots came back with no vote made for mayor. There were no spoiled ballots to count.

The judge did not handle the ballots during the recount unless there was a dispute or a concern. She just oversaw the process.

Gough said he was disappointed, but accepted the result. He said he will not challenge the process to the BC Supreme Court.

"Certainly not, no. I'm not going to waste anybody's time with that," he said.

Gough also poured cold water on the notion of running again in four year's time, saying this was his one shot at the mayor's seat.

Fortin said she is just glad the process is over so she can get back to the job of bringing the community together and mending some of the divisions in Peachland.

"We are already working on better communication, just to make sure there is one stream of communication and that we have more round tables and have the community involved," said Fortin. "You're not going to make everybody happy all the time - it's impossible."

Prior to each election, communities enact a new election bylaw, which includes the process for breaking a tie. Fortin urges all municipalities to review their tie-breaking procedures and go to a runoff instead of the drawing of names. She said she'll urge Peachland to do that the next time around.

"We've learned that may not be the best thing, that the citizens really could have been the best ones to choose. Unfortunately, this is our bylaw and this is the way we have to do it."

As for the notion she now step down to allow the citizens to be heard, Fortin said no.

UPDATE: 2:45 p.m.

The drawing of lots ended up determining the outcome of Peachland's mayoralty race.

A judicial recount Monday had Harry Gough and Cindy Fortin still tied at 804 votes each.

At that point, Madam Justice Ellen Burdett declared the drawing of lots.

Two sheets of paper with each candidate's name on were placed in a box.

Chief election officer Polly Palmer shook them up, and Burdett drew Fortin's name.

Fortin said it has been an emotional time, and she's ready for the community to heal.

UPDATE: 2:40 p.m.

Incumbent Cindy Fortin has been re-elected mayor of Peachland following a judicial recount.

UPDATE: 2:25 p.m.

The judicial recount of the mayor's race in Peachland has resumed and is halfway through the final ballot box.

UPDATE: 12:35 p.m.

Ballots are still being counted to determine Peachland's next mayor.

Four of six ballot boxes have been counted, and a 60-minute lunch break is being taken before the judicial recount resumes.

UPDATE: 11:25 a.m.

The first of two boxes have been counted for the judicial recount in Peachland. 

Both of the ones counted are from the advance polls and four more boxes need to be counted.

ORIGINAL: 10:25 a.m.

A judicial recount began shortly after 10 a.m. in Peachland council chambers to decide the municipality’s next mayor.

A verification of votes following the Oct. 20 municipal election had challenger Harry Gough and incumbent Cindy Fortin deadlocked with 804 votes each.

If the recount does not decide a winner, a name will be drawn to determine who sits in the mayor’s chair for the next four years.

The municipality's chief election officer, Polly Palmer, said "the (voting) machines really are accurate. But, it will be up to a judge now."

Gough held a one-vote lead over Fortin after the ballots were counted Saturday night. However, Palmer says a single ballot, which she presumes was a Fortin vote, jammed in the voting machine.

"The monitor read 'ballot jammed, reinsert.'"

Castanet reporter Wayne Moore is at the recount location and will provide updates as available. 

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