Court challenge of Lambton Shores municipal election underway
Should election results in Lambton Shores be thrown out, and new elections be held? That was the argument being heard in a Sarnia courtroom Friday, as the October election results are being challenged by candidates and voters.
In a two-person race for mayor, Doug Bonesteel finished second to incumbent Bill Weber. The vote difference was just over 700 votes, with slightly under 5,000 votes cast.
But Bonesteel says, even before the election, he and others had issues with the election, "When we started all putting everything together, we realized there's something seriously wrong here."
In January, Bonesteel, along with three other unsuccessful candidates and two eligible voters, launched a court challenge calling for all results of the election to be declared invalid, and bye elections held.
Representing the applicants, Toronto lawyer Eric Gillespie laid out nine issues, but at the crux of those issues is the way technology is being used.
Starting with software that determines who is on or off the voter rolls. Gillespie argued before the court it lacked transparency.
Then there's online voting, and the argument people are being shut out of the process. Or that, because a third party contracted firm is involved, their information might be at risk of being compromised.
Bonesteel says, "We live in a municipality that has a significant seniors population, and it was very confusing for them."
As for the technology itself, Gillespie says caution must be used.
"Technology has, obviously, become part of our world and there's no reason why we can't explore proper ways to use technology. In this case, I think there's clear examples of why people have grave concerns that technology is not being properly used in these elections."
Lawyer Analee Baroudi is representing Lambton Shores, and says voters were given options and information.
"There is an abundance of information provided by the municipality in connection with this election. Telephone and internet voting are both permitted methods of voting under the municipal elections act."
Gillespie admitted in court, part of the burden is to prove the alleged issues could have changed the outcomes for the election. He believes he's done that.
Superior Court Justice Thomas Carey has reserved his decision for a later date.