'Human error' blamed for long delay reporting results in Ontario riding

OTTAWA — Elections Canada is blaming "human error" for having left federal candidates in one southern Ontario riding waiting the better part of a day to find out who garnered the most votes there in Monday's election.

Preliminary results from Monday night's vote in Kitchener-Conestoga showed Liberal candidate Tim Louis leading Conservative incumbent Harold Albrecht by fewer than 300 votes with all but five of 216 polls having reported.

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Yet by Tuesday morning, those five polls still hadn't been reported, leaving the outcome in limbo.

"The delayed reporting of results was the result of human error after a very long day," said Elections Canada spokeswoman Diane Benson, who explained each ballot box has three copies of a document breaking down the number of votes per candidate and the number of rejected ballots.

One of the copies is supposed to go into the sealed ballot box, the second travels with the returning officer to the returning office and the third is kept by the deputy returning officer as a backup.

The problem occurred when the returning officer's copy was sealed inside the ballot box along with the first copy. The situation was made worse when the returning officer was unable to reach the deputy returning officer to get the third copy until Tuesday.

"The preliminary results for the five polls in Kitchener-Conestoga are now reported and do not change the outcome of the race," Benson said, though she did not provide an update on the number of votes received by each candidate.

While voting reportedly went smoothly across much of the country on Monday, Elections Canada confirmed problems with some polling stations that had caused delays in their boxes' being opened. Officials said these were isolated incidents.

There were also concerns about some voters' having received robocalls in the Maritimes and Quebec with incorrect or misleading information about when and where they could cast their ballots.

This report was first published by The Canadian Press on Oct. 22, 2019.

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