I encourage everyone to read up on this story that will likely get shuffled away by the local media. The Readers Digest version is as follows: Liberal Chris Kibermanis got more votes than his Conservative opponent in Edmonton-Castle Downs during last fall’s election. He won three appeals to verify that he got the most votes. He’s been working hard as an MLA for his constituents since November… Yesterday, a judge decided to award the election to his Tory opponent who received fewer votes than Kibermanis.
Kibermanis is taking this in stride and it appears the Alberta Liberal Party won’t be appealing the results, wanting to avoid a long legal battle. Now, I know I’m probably being somewhat partisan here but I have three big concerns over this:
1. Once the lawyers decide things, you’re inevitably not going to have a level playing field. One alert reader who brought this story to my attention, properly called Thomas Lukaszuk’s lawyers a “highly paid, O.J.-style legal team”. Kibermanis meanwhile works construction…I suspect he likely didn’t have the same caliber legal team.
2. Why is a judge better suited to decide what constitutes a spoiled ballot than the Chief Returning Officer? The Election Act doesn’t define a spoiled ballot so the decision should rest with the local returning officer since, you know, that’s the entire job of the CRO!
3. It’s extremely rare for a judge to award an election to the loser. If there was significant doubt and the court felt the need to interfere, why not have a bi-election?
Chris has said he’ll run again next time and I encourage Edmontonians to get involved and help him out when that next time comes around.