Anger as vote re­count de­nied

Central Otago Mirror - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

The for­mer Otago Re­gional coun­cil­lor who lost his seat to Michael Laws by five votes is ‘‘ab­so­lutely gut­ted, frus­trated and dis­ap­pointed’’ he has been de­nied a vote re­count.

Gary Kel­li­her filed an ap­pli­ca­tion to the dis­trict court for a re­count of the votes with the Dun­stan Con­stituency after los­ing in the 2016 elec­tion to Laws. How­ever, Judge Paul Kel­lar de­clined the ap­pli­ca­tion.

Kel­li­her said he did not make the de­ci­sion to re­count ‘‘flip­pantly or lightly’’ and Elec­tionz had led him to be­lieve a judge would ac­cept a re­quest for a re­count be­cause of the close­ness.

‘‘I un­der­stand re­counts have been granted in the past on close­ness. The judge’s de­ci­sion is based heav­ily on the re­quest be­ing on the close­ness of num­bers. I have no grounds to oth­er­wise ques­tion the ro­bust­ness of the process or the in­tegrity of those in­volved, and then be able to pro­vide evi- dence of that would be im­pos­si­ble.’’

In a writ­ten judge­ment, Kel­lar says aside from the close­ness of vot­ing, Kel­li­her did not pro­vide any other ev­i­dence sup­port­ing the result was in­cor­rect and that on a re­count he would be elected. The close­ness of vot­ing it­self did not amount to rea­son­able grounds for a be­lief that the dec­la­ra­tion was in­cor­rect. Some­thing more would be re­quired by ref­er­ence to the pos­si­bil­ity of er­rors in the way the votes were counted.

Michael Laws un­seated for­mer Otago Re­gional coun­ciller Gary Kel­li­her by five votes.

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