Peachland mayoral candidate Harry Gough appeared to have won the election Saturday by one vote but a recount has changed that to a tie with incumbent mayor Cindy Fortin. —Image: Facebook

B.C. town’s mayoral race a tie, come down to luck of the draw

Harry Gough led incumbent Cindy Fortin by one vote on election night Saturday

It may all come down to luck of the draw.

For one day it looked like Peachland mayoral candidate Harry Gough had ousted incumbent mayor Cindy Fortin from the head of the council table, but a count held on Monday offered a different picture.

It appears to be a tie, with both candidates getting 804 votes. Fortin picked up one crucial extra vote during a verification count that was held Monday, due to the closeness of the race.

With both candidates taking in an equal number of votes, the chief elections officer said she will call for a judicial recount for the mayor’s race. If it’s still a tie, there will be a draw, as per the district’s Election Procedures Bylaw No. 1536 which is governed by provincial law. The names of the two tied candidates to be be placed in a hat and the winner’s name drawn.

As for what caused the ballot to go missing, Chief Election Officer Polly Palmer put out a statement Monday night that said a “a voting machine mis-fed a ballot, which caused the voting machine to jam.”

The machine prompted the presiding election official to re-insert the ballot, but before the official could do so, the mis-fed ballot landed in the sealed ballot box.

“This was immediately reported to the chief elections officer, who made note of the issue,” Palmer said. “No other issues were experienced with the voting machines.

READ MORE: PEACHLAND ELECTION NIGHT

The preliminary results were announced on Saturday evening, and on Monday Palmer conducted a verification process in the presence of the two top mayoral candidates and/or their representatives.

Neither Fortin nor Gough replied to multiple calls or emails, but they have made their thoughts known on social media platforms, where community members are colourfully sharing their thoughts on the electoral process, the candidates and the state of their community in general.

“Folks, let’s let the process run its course. Appreciate all the support I received. Let the forces deal with it and move on,” said Gough, a former councillor and previous longtime owner of the IGA, on one Peachland-specific page.

Earlier in the week, Fortin said she was going to press on and ask for a recount, noting that it had been a difficult race.

Political engagement is something that Peachlanders excel at, with voter turnout repeatedly soaring far above the provincial average. This election, 2,348 residents cast a ballot, which is 52 per cent of the electorate.

The mayoral race in Peachland was also heated, with five candidates competing for the position.

Patrick Van Minsel, Pete Coolio, incumbent Coun. Terry Condon, incumbent Coun. Pam Cunningham, Keith Fielding and incumbent Coun. Mike Kent will form Peachland’s new council.

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