Error in Osoyoos school trustee byelection sparks call for provincial intervention | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Error in Osoyoos school trustee byelection sparks call for provincial intervention

Okanagan Similkameen School District trustee candidate Penny Duperron says electors were deprived of their voting rights after the school board decided against taking action to correct a mistake made during a recent byelection for the Osoyoos trustee.
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November 28, 2016 - 6:30 PM

PENTICTON - Questions about voters’ rights are being raised after a recent decision by the Okanagan Similkameen School District not to correct an error in the process that took place during the recent byelection for the Osoyoos school board trustee.

A requirement for two advance polls was omitted during the election.

The school board issued a statement on Nov. 25 apologizing for the error, noting an application could be brought forward to the B.C. Supreme Court to challenge the election results by the chief election officer, at least four electors of the electoral area, or by a candidate.

The school district also noted in the statement a provision in the Local Government Act says an application would not necessarily result in the byelection being declared invalid, if the court was satisfied "the election was conducted in good faith" and "the irregularity or failure did not materially affect the results of the election."

Penny Duperron was one of three candidates vying for the trustee position and placed second in the vote earlier this month.

Duperron says the issue is bigger than winning or losing.

"It’s about the people in Osoyoos being deprived of their voting rights,” she said. "It’s about the school district and the board choosing which rules to follow. It’s about Ms. Tarr, a trustee for our community, and the board responding like this error is insignificant.”

She says the school board and district aren’t willing to “step up and do the right thing.”

"Apparently the election bylaw was misinterpreted. I’m having trouble understanding how that could happen - we as candidates had rules to follow, and they are professionals,” she says.

Duperron says she's written MLA Linda Larson and Education Minister Mike Bernier regarding the issue.

“I’m hoping the province will intervene. There wasn’t a great turnout for the original election. A second advance poll could have made a difference in the results by providing a further opportunity for people to get out and vote."

Casey Brouwer won the Nov. 5 election with a total of 251 votes, followed by Duperron with 211 votes. The third candidate John Redenbach came in last with 87 votes.


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