Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Whymarrh Whitby and Alison Coffin leave the law office of O'Dea Earle in downtown St. John's on April 12, 2021 following a press conference where they announced they were filing a constitutional challenge to the recent provincial election.

Paul Daly/The Canadian Press

Newfoundland and Labrador’s New Democratic Party has filed a legal challenge to last month’s provincial election, alleging widespread irregularities with mail-in balloting and asking a judge to toss out the results.

The constitutional challenge comes after the pandemic-delayed vote saw one of the lowest turnouts ever in a Canadian provincial election. A COVID-19 outbreak forced the last-minute cancellation of all in-person voting, and just 48 per cent of eligible voters ended up casting a ballot.

In an application filed with the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John’s on Monday afternoon, it’s alleged many voters were prevented from participating in the vote because the province’s elections agency badly mishandled the switch to mail-in balloting. The NDP also alleges hundreds of people were added to the voters list without requiring identification – raising concerns for the potential of election fraud.

Story continues below advertisement

“You can’t just ignore errors of this magnitude,” said Kyle Rees, a St. John’s lawyer and president of the provincial NDP. “There was such a powerful ignorance of both elections law and Charter rights during Newfoundland’s pandemic election that I don’t think the public can have confidence in the result.”

Andrew Furey’s Liberals were re-elected with a slim majority in the delayed election, winning 22 of the province’s 40 seats. The Progressive Conservatives won 13 seats, the NDP won two and three Independents were elected. A coronavirus outbreak lead to the cancellation of all in-person voting just 12 hours before the election was to be held Feb. 12, and the deadline for mailed ballots was extended multiple times until March 25.

The two applicants in the court challenge are Alison Coffin, Leader of the NDP, who lost her seat by a 53-vote margin, and St. John’s resident Whymarrh Whitby, who says he did not receive a mail-in ballot and was denied his right to vote.

The 45-page application names Elections Newfoundland and Labrador’s Chief Electoral Officer Bruce Chaulk as a respondent, claiming he “failed to discharge [his legal] duties in the manner required of him, most notably with respect to his duty to ensure that the election proceeded with fairness, impartiality, and in compliance with the [Elections] Act, and that [Mr. Chaulk] failed to act in good faith.” The NDP argues the head of Elections NL had no legal authority to extend the voting period.

The court filing includes a sworn affidavit from an Elections NL employee, Jordan Mulrooney, who says he was directed to add names to the voters list without confirming their identities. Mr. Mulrooney says “a large number” of voters applied for ballots by phone and were sent them without any proof of who those callers were or whether they were eligible to vote.

It also alleges Mr. Chaulk and members of his family took voting kits home, and that a number of requests for ballots appeared to have similar signatures or handwriting. Some voters were also able to cast, and have counted, ballots that they had printed themselves, according to the application.

One NDP scrutineer, in another affidavit, claimed she was prevented from observing the act of vote counting because of COVID-19 restrictions, and was not permitted to look at vote tallies or summaries.

Story continues below advertisement

“This information is so inflammatory, we felt we couldn’t just sit back and let it ride,” Mr. Rees said. “The election was carried out contrary to law, and it’s not like there was just one minor slip-up.”

The provincial election agency declined to comment. Mr. Chaulk has previously defended his actions, saying he was doing his best to facilitate an unprecedented election during a challenging outbreak.

“The Chief Electoral Officer will offer no comment on this matter while it is before the courts,” said Adrienne Luther, spokesperson for Elections NL.

Mr. Furey has insisted the vote was legitimate and says he intends to govern for the next four years. He declined to talk about the legal challenge.

“As this matter is before the court, the Premier cannot offer any comment on it at this time,” said Meghan McCabe, the Premier’s spokesperson.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies