Beverley Iglesias, right, has withdrawn her legal action claiming the results of the 2018 Chase municipal election were not valid. (Rick Koch photo)

Legal claim calling Chase election invalid withdrawn

Unsuccesful mayoral candidate had previously alleged 12 people or more voted illegitimately

The legal challenge to the legitimacy of the Chase municipal election has been officially withdrawn.

However, the mayoral candidate who filed the challenge with the courts says she found the way she was excluded from communicating its withdrawal unacceptable. Yet she is satisfied as she will have a chance to provide input into future election practices.

In court documents filed on Nov. 21, Beverley Iglesias called the results of the Oct. 20 election to fill Chase’s mayor and council seats illegitimate, citing irregularities with the addresses of 12 people who voted. It also stated 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 was the second runner up in the mayoral race with 200 votes. Rod Crowe won the mayor’s chair with 256 votes, only 11 more than David Lepsoe, the first runner up.

Iglesias said she started the process to withdraw the claim on Wednesday, Nov. 28 following a meeting with Sean O’Flaherty, a Village of Chase employee who acted as the chief elections officer for the October municipal election.

Related:Unsuccessful mayoral candidate calls Chase election invalid

During the meeting, Iglesias said it was agreed that representatives of the village would meet with her and the committee of other Chase residents who had helped her look into the way the election was administered, before news of the claim’s withdrawal was publicized.

Instead, a news release from the village announcing Iglesias had withdrawn her legal challenge was sent to the Shuswap Market News on the afternoon of Dec. 4. The village retracted their initial release after discussing the matter with Iglesias.

Iglesias said she found the initial statement from the village unacceptable because of the way she was excluded from the process.

“I didn’t go in there just to withdraw my application, I went in there to say ‘let’s work through this. Let’s come up with something for the public, you know, the full explanation,’” she said.

A refined statement from the village distributed after Iglesias had met with village chief administrative officer Joni Heinrich on Dec. 5 states that voting in the municipal election was conducted fairly and in good faith according to all provincial legislation, bylaws and procedures. It also reminds the public that the onus is on each voter to know whether they are eligible to vote before signing the document declaring their eligibility.

“The provincial legislation allows communities to use either a voters’ list or do same-day registration. The Village of Chase happens to utilize same-day registration. Voters’ lists are generated by Elections BC, and are only as current as the last update performed by the organization,” the statement reads.

“There is no requirement for Elections BC to ensure the voters’ list is current as of 30 days prior to a municipal election. The choice to use a voters’ list or use same-day registration is a council decision by way of an election bylaw.”

Related:Chase mayor wins by 11 votes over incumbent councillor

Chase utilized same-day registration in the recent election; their 2018 election bylaw states that people may only register to vote at the time of voting.

“A lot of the things she is concerned about are things we don’t have control over. A lot of the things she is concerned about are legislated by the provincial government,” Heinrich said.

“We’re definitely interested in meeting with her and there may be some ways to improve things, but 95 per cent of what occurred is because of the ways the legislation is written.”

Iglesias said she hopes the planned dialogue between her committee and the village will address her concerns with the way the election has been administered and lead to some checks and balances that will improve the way elections are conducted going forward.

She said that an opportunity to present her concerns to the village and improve the election procedures was all she wanted from the outset.


@SalmonArm
jim.elliot@saobserver.net

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