Returning Officer Decisions on recount requests

On Wednesday Oct. 20, 2021, the Returning Officer for The City of Calgary received four requests for a recount of the elections for the Mayoral, Ward 3 Councillor, Ward 4 Councillor and Ward 9 Councillor contests.

Section 98(1) of the Local Authorities Election Act (the Act) sets out the criteria for three scenarios where a Returning Officer may make a recount (listed as (a), (b), and (c)). They are:

98(1) The returning officer may make a recount of the votes cast at one or more voting stations if

(a) a candidate or an official agent or a scrutineer of a candidate recognized pursuant to section 69 or, in the case of a vote on a bylaw or question, a scrutineer appointed pursuant to section 70(1) shows grounds that the returning officer considers reasonable for alleging that the record of the result of the count of votes at any voting station is inaccurate,

(b) the returning officer considers that the number of
(i) valid ballots objected to, or
(ii) rejected ballots other than those on which no vote has been cast by an elector, was sufficient to affect the result of the election if they had not been counted or rejected as the case may be, or,

(c) the returning officer is of the opinion that there may have been an administrative or technical error that may cause an error in the count of votes.

In addition, the Act has prescriptive processes outlined in section 98(2) for how recounts are to be performed. Specifically, the Act directs that the Returning Officer shall “proceed to count ballots contained in it in the same manner as the deputy presiding at the voting station is directed to do.” As tabulators were used to count the votes at the voting station, they would have to be used again in the recount. The Returning Officer has no discretion to substitute an alternative counting method.

All requests submitted by candidates in the elections listed above were filed pursuant to section 98(1)(a). The Returning Officer considered the information provided by the candidates and determined that there were insufficient grounds for alleging that the record of the result of the count of votes is inaccurate. In addition, The Returning Officer has considered the other circumstances under which a recount may be conducted (sections 98(1)(b) and 98(1)(c)) and has determined that there are not sufficient grounds to make a recount.

As a result, all recount requests have been denied and the candidates in those elections have been advised.

Official Oct. 18, 2021 General Election results will be issued by Elections Calgary before noon on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021 in accordance with the Act.