The results of the Progressive Conservative Party’s leadership election were not finalized until the early hours of Oct. 2, leaving many Albertans going to bed not knowing who their next premier would be.
At the centre of this delay were a handful of constituencies, including Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock, which were stalled in getting the second ballot results counted. In this constituency, the several-hour delay was a result of a single vote.
“The fact is that we were one number out on our second ballot, and we had to find it. That’s the democratic process, you’ve got to be right on,” said constituency association president John Tiemstra.
He added that deputy returning officer Norm Kitz did an excellent job getting an accurate count, especially as he had to work until 1 a.m. to get it finalized.
The first round of voting held Sept. 17, with none of the six candidates getting a clear majority. That left Allison Redford, Gary Mar and Doug Horner still in the running.
The second vote, which was held Saturday, Oct. 1, came down to the second ballot after front-runners Allison Redford and Gary Mar both failed to get more than half the votes.
Redford eked out a victory over Mar on the second ballot, by a narrow margin of 1,610 votes, a difference of about two percentage points.
It wasn’t until about 2 a.m. that the final results were revealed, prompting much speculation and rumour as to the cause of the delay.
The Edmonton Journal reported Oct. 2 that there had been a rumour of calls for a recount from Mar’s campaign, although Mar’s campaign manager Mark Kastner dismissed that as a rumour.
A spokesperson from Doug Horner’s campaign was quoted as saying that the delay in this constituency was a result of ballots from four different polling stations being taken to Westlock for a recount. Tiemstra confirmed that version of events last week. “The initial count is all done at the polling stations, then it is hand-delivered back to Norm in Westlock,” he said. It was at that point the discrepancy was discovered and the recount was done.
As for the number of people who came out to vote, Tiemstra said he was pleased with the turnout of 1,268 voters.
“I think we always want more, but that was a pretty good number. We were fortunate in selling a lot of new memberships, and we’re certainly very pleased with that,” he said. “I hope that when we have our provincial election, the people that bought memberships will come out and vote, and obviously support our candidate, whoever that might be.”
Current MLA Ken Kowalski has declared his intention to once again seek the nomination for the constituency, although it is as of yet unclear when the next provincial election will be.