Mayor-elect Bell joins defence against recount

Gore mayor-elect Ben Bell, who won the district’s mayoral race by eight votes, is joining the defence against a potential recount next month.

His opponent and former mayor Tracy Hicks applied to the District Court for a recount last week.

This requires Mr Hicks to prove there are reasonable grounds to believe the tally could be incorrect in a case against the Gore District Council, which had its votes counted electronically by

Mr Hicks, who was paying for the recount process from his own pocket, said he had hoped for a decision onthe case on Friday.

However at a meeting that morning, Judge KD Kelly decided to allow time for each party to provide submissions to support or oppose the recount, with a final decision due after October 31.

‘‘Subject to decision, [a] placeholder is made for any recount to occur on Saturday, November 5, 2022, or alternatively Monday, November 7, in Christchurch,’’ Judge Kelly said.

The judge also granted Mr Bell’s request to be included as an interested party. Mr Bell said he would be joining the defence against the recount.

‘‘I am also confident that the vote-counting procedures were correct, and that an accurate result was reached by on behalf of the council,’’ Mr Bell said.

It had submitted 140 pages of evidence which ‘‘demonstrate the checks and balances in place that can give our Gore community the confidence that their votes were tallied correctly’’, Mr Bell said.

‘‘My appointed scrutineer, who attended the vote count in Christchurch, was able to confirm that these processes were followed.

‘‘[Tracy Hicks] didn’t have a scrutineer there. I did, so from what I’ve seen it’s followed correctly but from his perspective, I can see why he might think it’s not followed correctly.

‘‘He’s rightly questioned it — he has his concerns.’’

Tracy Hicks

Mr Hicks said there was only one informal vote but 114 blank votes, which was proportionally quite different from other neighbouring districts.

‘‘I know there was a lot votes that came in at the last minute. Mistakes can occur.’’

Council chief executive Stephen Parry said the application for a recount was a matter applied for by the unsuccessful mayoral candidate, Mr Hicks. The district court had the function to decide if a recount was ordered.

‘‘The council is a party to this application, but only involved as a servant of the election process, and is neutral on this issue now before the court.

‘‘The mayoral election remains, at this point in time, in dispute, with the matter before the court. Because of this, the council will make no further comment.’’