One vote margin in Kitchener Ward 9 race

The race for Ward 9 councillor was narrowly won by Frank Etherington, who barely squeaked by candidate Debbie Chapman with a solitary vote: 1,689 to 1,688 to be exact. A recount on Nov. 3 turned out the exact same results.

The Oct. 25 municipal elections may be days past, however, the race for Ward 9 city councillor may not yet be over. That is, not until we hear Debbie Chapman’s decision on whether or not she will apply for an official judicial recount of the astonishingly close election results, an announcement expected to be made Nov. 10.

“It’s very surreal”, said Chapman, a professor of North American studies at Laurier. “I expected myself to be upset over the result, but it hasn’t come over me yet.”

Remaining positive despite the same outcome during the recount, Chapman said, “I don’t feel like I’ve lost [and] I don’t regret it either.”
“Delighted with the result” of the election, Etherington said he was “hoping that the figures would stay the same as they were and that’s exactly what happened.”

Had the result of the Ward 9 election been a tie, a recount would have automatically been prompted, but it was up to Chapman to request a recount to be executed.

“Initially I had asked for a manual recount,” said Chapman, who explained that only the judicial recount can be performed manually.
The Nov. 3 recount was performed using many of the same tabulators that counted the Ward 9 ballots on election day, two of which broke down partway through the recount process.

Many of the ballots, torn and damaged in the time since the election, were unreadable by the tabulators and others, deemed ambiguous by imperfections in the voters’ markings, had to be duplicated in order to be properly read by the machines.

Chapman noted the issues weren’t always so clear though, where ballots with no visible tears or damage and no ambiguities in the markings were continuously rejected by the machines.

Despite the small mishaps with the tabulators, Chapman mentioned the recount revealing the exact results as election night were “very telling” on the reliability of the new electronic voting system.

“It showed the integrity of the whole election system,” said Etherington of the recount process, done using electronic machines. “If those figures had come out different then we would have been in a lot of trouble I would suggest because the whole system would have been in question.”

As it stands, Frank Etherington is the new councillor for Ward 9, but currently remains hesitant to begin his celebrations while awaiting Chapman’s decision on whether or not to request the manual, judicial recount.

“The rollercoaster we’re on, it’s still moving,” said Etherington of Chapman’s pending decision.

Upon asking Chapman about her feelings about another recount she explained, “I haven’t decided whether or not to do so yet. People are telling me to just ‘go for it’, but it’s a big financial investment. I want to talk to my scrutineer before making my decision, which I will announce by Wednesday.”

While Ward 9 awaits the final word on the decision to call a judicial recount, both Etherington and Chapman have expressed their support and sympathies to one another’s hard fought campaigns with Chapman concluding, “We’ve been very friendly, Ward 9 will be very well represented regardless. Frank will make a great councillor.”