Judge rules ballot shows intent to vote 

Tied vote means Whistler faces a runoff election for sixth council seat

In some municipalities a tied election could be decided by the simple toss of a coin. In Whistler the tie will be broken in a runoff election, at an estimated cost of $25,000.

It’s taken three ballot counts, each one with a different result, and a judicial ruling to come to this decision.

Now all 13 unsuccessful candidates in the Nov. 16 election will have the chance to run again.

"In a sense I’m relieved that it came to a finality so we know how we stand," said Dave Kirk, after Tuesday’s judgment outside a North Vancouver courtroom.

Kirk, who has served on council for the past 12 years, was tied for the sixth council spot in the Nov. 16 election with Marianne Wade, who is taking her first shot at a council seat.

"I concur (with the judge’s decision)," said Wade.

"I think it shows the interests of the voter is number one and voter intent is valuable and primary."

At the heart of the matter provincial court judge Douglas Moss was asked to rule on was the intention of one voter who filled out their election ballot incorrectly.

The ballot, since dubbed "the arrow ballot," was discovered during a judicial recount of the entire 3,138 ballots in Whistler last Saturday, Nov. 23.

At that time Moss examined each election ballot by hand, removing any questionable ballots, before handing them to municipal staff to be fed through a counting machine. About a dozen ballots were questioned by the judge on Nov. 23, some with too many votes registered and others with incorrect markings.

He consulted with Marianne Wade and Dave Kirk and their legal counsel before making any rulings on those ballots.

One ballot in question had a large drawing of a dump truck in the lower right hand corner. While the drawing could have pointed to a perverse political statement, the voter had also filled in choices for the election candidate in the correct areas.

"You can tell the person was intending to vote," said Moss.

"It’s just got a diagram on it."

The ballot was fed through the machines and counted, as it was on Election Day.

Another ballot in question, since dubbed "the dot ballot," clearly had correct marks in all the places for six council candidates but the marker had left a small dot beside a seventh candidate name. Subsequently when the ballot was fed into the machine, it was rejected on the grounds that there were too many votes on the ballot.

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