The fate of perhaps hundreds of advance ballots that were cast in the Surrey municipal election remains uncertain after the party affiliation for two council candidates was accidentally omitted.
Advance voting was suspended for nearly an hour Saturday after the mistake was discovered. Maz Artang and Michael Bose – who are part of Barinder Rasode's One Surrey team – did not have a party affiliation listed next to their names, essentially making them appear as Independents.
The ballots that were cast before voting was suspended are being kept separate as Surrey's chief election officer awaits direction. The officer had initially said that direction would come from Elections B.C., though that was corrected Sunday to indicate it would come from the provincial Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, which oversees municipal elections.
Mr. Artang, in an interview, said the affiliation being left off the ballot was concerning.
"It promotes a misleading political landscape. The reality is Mike Bose and I are associated with One Surrey, we're not Independent, and for first-time voters and people who don't speak English as a first language, it can be confusing," he said. "We just want to ensure the voting process and the integrity of the voting process is being respected."
Mr. Artang said Jane Sullivan, the chief election officer, told the party that approximately 200 ballots could have been affected at the Cloverdale Recreation Centre. The centre was one of three advance polling stations.
Brad Zubyk, a campaign manager with One Surrey, said the first day of advance voting is traditionally the busiest and called the omission "frustrating." He said it was brought to the party's attention by supporters who noticed there were only five One Surrey council candidates listed, not seven.
Mr. Zubyk said the party has sought legal advice. When asked what a suitable remedy would be, he said it was difficult to tell.
"What's the damage? In a normal sense, you're fighting over, 'Is that an X? Is that not an X?' The usual [ballot] stuff," he said. "In this one, how do you judge how many votes they would have had?"
Mr. Zubyk also accused the chief election officer of moving too slowly once the mistake was discovered.
A written statement on behalf of Ms. Sullivan Saturday said the omission was discovered during the first two hours of the advance poll. It said Ms. Sullivan suspended voting for 55 minutes until revised ballots were printed, and the polling stations stayed open later as a result.
The statement said the ballots would be kept separate until the chief election officer received direction from Elections B.C.
However, Don Main, an Elections B.C. spokesman, said Sunday that his organization only administers voting at the provincial level. He said local elections fall under the Local Government Act, which is administered by the Ministry of Community Sport and Cultural Development.
Ms. Sullivan, in an e-mail Sunday, confirmed the initial statement was incorrect and direction would be sought from the ministry.
However, she did not respond to a followup e-mail asking for further clarification and confirmation on how many ballots were affected.
Two ministry spokeswomen did not return messages seeking comment about the matter Sunday.
Municipal election day is Nov. 15.