ARMSTRONG - A tallying mistake on election night means an Armstrong woman who thought she’d won a seat on council is getting some bad news.
On Saturday night, the City of Armstrong reported Helen Jackson earned 425 votes in the civic election, enough to beat Lance McGregor, with 403 votes, for the sixth councillor seat. But now it appears McGregor’s actual results were 473 votes, putting him in fifth place overall and bumping Jackson off the roster. The amended results pushed candidate Linda Werner from fifth place to sixth.
“I’m very disappointed, but what can you do?” Jackson said Monday. “I was very pleased Saturday night and looking forward to the next four years and then I got a call saying I didn’t win after all.”
The City sent out an email to local media Monday morning with the amended results. Chief elections officer Natalie Garbay said the mistake was her own fault.
“The error does not have to do with the counting of the votes by the poll clerks,” she said. “The votes were hand counted in tandem and results verified every 50 ballots.”
The error was made when Garbay added up the subtotals for each candidate Saturday night. On Monday, during a routine review of the preliminary results, the only error found was the final total for candidate McGregor.
“I assure that the counting of the votes is valid in that it was only an error in subtotalling that changed the outcome,” Garbay said.
While Jackson’s celebration was short-lived, McGregor’s is just sinking in.
“I’m happy to hear it, but I feel sorry for the other lady,” McGregor said.
Armstrong didn’t file its preliminary results until close to midnight, and with a higher voter turnout this year, McGregor suspects it was a busy night for the elections crew.
“They were maybe a little overwhelmed,” McGregor said. “After a 10-16 hour day, that’s a long shift for people. They’re only human.”
Voter turnout was 29.9 per cent this election, compared to 24.2 in 2011. McGregor, who was employed in the city’s public works department for 25 years, said having more people staffed on election night might help.
The official results will be released on Wednesday, and McGregor isn’t getting too excited about his win just yet. In fact, he’s waiting until he gets sworn in.
The rest of Armstrong council is made up of Mayor Chris Pieper, and councillors Shirley Fowler, Paul Britton,Steven Drapala, Ron O’Sullivan and Linda Werner.
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—This story was edited at 12 p.m. Nov. 17 to include comments from Helen Jackson and Lance McGregor.