Ballot error leads to call for resignation of election officer

SURREY – Following the news that the misprinted ballots used in Saturday’s advanced voting would still be counted, the campaign manager for One Surrey is calling for the removal of Jane Sullivan as the city’s chief election officer.


Speaking to the Now Tuesday, Brad Zubyk of Barinder Rasode’s One Surrey said it was time for Sullivan to step aside.


"It’s clear to me that she just doesn’t understand. When I discussed this issue with her early Saturday she just simply didn’t get the importance of shutting down the polls until new ballots were ready, she didn’t see the significance of it," he said.


The initial ballots used in Saturday’s advanced voting left the One Surrey team name off of candidates Maz Artang and Mike Bose. According to an elections supervisor with the city, 693 ballots were cast on the misprinted forms and 113 mailed out before new ones were printed.


Asked if the decision to count the misprinted ballots ultimately lay with the province or Sullivan, the supervisor explained that the chief elections officer was the one who made the final decision to count the ballots.


But for the camp affected, that’s just not good enough.


"The very basic principle of democracy (is) that everybody is going to vote under the same circumstance and every ballot is going to be identical," said Zubyk.


Also at issue for the team are the quarantine and security of the misprinted ballots, as they had been separated from the corrected ballots after the error was discovered.


"We have grave concerns about ballot security," said Zubyk. "We don’t know if the ballots put aside are in a vault, a garage, in someone’s rumpus room, we don’t know."


Zubyk added it wasn’t just this instance where a campaign has had an issue with Sullivan either. Prior to the closing of nomination period, Surrey First began erecting their signs around the city, despite other camps being told to wait until after nominations were in.


"She gave different directions on signs and after someone violated it she just said, ‘Well it’s just a guideline’ after she’d been very emphatic with other campaigns about the timing when signs could go up," recalled Zubyk. "So it’s not just about the ballots, it’s a chain of events that lead us to believe that she’s not doing her job. We’re calling on the province to take a look and see if they’ll find any of this inappropriate."


Jonathan Ross of Doug McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition said they were not going as far as to call for Sullivan’s resignation, but they are concerned with the error.


"Our concern is allowing as many people to vote as possible, that everyone’s vote is counted no matter who they vote for," he said. "In terms of what they’re calling for, we’re not at that point yet. We’re just trying to gather the facts."


Surrey First’s mayoral candidate Linda Hepner said they would not be joining One Surrey in their call for Sullivan’s removal.


"We know there were hiccups, but we are more interested in resolving the issue than being punitive," she said.


However, Zubyk said the damage has already been done and if the integrity of the election is to be preserved someone other than Sullivan needs to take the lead.


"This is just such a grievous breach of basic democratic principle," said Zubyk. "I have nothing against her personally, but she is clearly hurting the image of the city and calling into question the legitimacy of this election."

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