Conservatives blame 'human error' for apparent leadership vote discrepancies
Lanyards and booklets are shown during the opening night of the federal conservative leadership convention in Toronto on Friday, May 26, 2017. (Nathan Denette / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Thursday, June 1, 2017 4:27PM EDT
OTTAWA -- The Conservative Party is blaming “human error” for apparent discrepancies in the final count of ballots cast in last weekend’s leadership contest.
The total number of ballots the party said were cast was lower than the figure compiled by Dominion Voting Services, the company responsible for the electronic tabulation of the data.
And the party’s figure of 141,362 ballots was much higher than the number recorded by its own voter-tracking database, CTV News has learned.
Spokesman Cory Hann said the party is confident in the accuracy of the final results.
“The Chief Returning Officer and Deloitte have verified the results, and per our rules, they are final and binding,” Hann wrote in an email.
“There is, of course, human error involved when hundreds of volunteers are asked to data enter some 140,000+ records, so we expect a small discrepancy between what’s in our database and what the official ballot count would be.”
CTV News obtained a list of ID numbers for members who cast valid ballots, extracted from the party’s Constituent Information Management System (CIMS) database. It contained only of 133,896 member IDs -- far less than the party’s figure.
But Hann said the CIMS list was unofficial and provided to candidate campaigns only to help them co-ordinate their get-out-the-vote efforts.
Party members who voted in person in locations across the country may not have had their ballots entered into the CIMS database, according to a party official speaking on background.
But that does not appear to account for the discrepancy of more than 7,000 ballots between the CIMS list and the vote total announced at the convention.
Scheer scored an upset victory by the narrowest of margins, recording just 50.95 per cent of the “points” available in the ranked balloting system that assigned 100 points to each of the 338 federal ridings.
On the final round of balloting, Scheer received 7,049 more votes than frontrunner Maxime Bernier, the party said.
But the party has not released the total number of votes cast for each candidate on the first round of balloting, and instead provided data that gave the percentage of votes they won in each one of the 338 ridings.
Those percentages appear to match those data compiled by Dominion, which show 141,536 votes were cast for the 14 candidates registered on the first round -- a number 154 ballots higher than the party’s figure.
According to candidate campaign officials contacted by CTV, in theory, every ballot cast should have been matched with a name in the CIMS database, a measure put in place to ensure every vote was valid.
Members mailed their ballots to the offices of accounting firm Deloitte, in Vaughan, Ontario. There, the declaration was reviewed by scrutineers to ensure it contained a photocopy of the member’s driver’s licence or passport and a signed declaration form.
A bar code in the ballot package was recorded in the CIMS database to confirm it was cast by a party member.
Valid ballots were placed in unsealed boxes. At this stage, about 10,000 voters were deemed incomplete and stored in 58 separate boxes at the Deloitte facility.
The accepted ballots were taken to the Toronto Congress Centre on Friday night. There, the ballots were scanned by tabulator machines beginning around 2 a.m. the following morning.
The ballots were all sent for shredding on Saturday night, making a recount impossible.