Recount reverses result

“Comedy of errors”

By Joel Ceausu

“It was a complete comedy of errors,” says Agostino Cannavino. “It was not to be believed.”

The incumbent EMSB commissioner was defeated in the Nov. 2 English Montreal School Board elections by 11 votes in favour of his Ward 6 opponent Domenic Furfaro. “He had a good team and organization getting out the vote. I saw the action on the ground, they wanted to win.”

But after hearing that new voters were added to the electoral list after the revision period and he wasn’t supplied with the information, he requested a recount.

On Remembrance Day the ballot boxes were recounted at the Montreal courthouse in the presence of Quebec judge Justice Antonio de Michele, representatives of both candidates, EMSB lawyer Benoît Duhême and EMSB returning officer Pierre-Yves Bezzaz.

The recount resulted in 80 votes thrown out and a three-vote victory for Cannavino. The original vote of 743-732 in favour of Furfaro was adjusted to 699-696 in favour of Cannavino in the district that covers St. Michel, Villeray, Plateau-Mont-Royal and Ville Marie.

The seven-hour process was punctuated repeatedly by Justice de Michele criticizing the handling of the vote, Cannavino told The Suburban.

“Some ballot boxes were missing seals, some ballots were in the wrong envelopes or loose in the boxes; some ballots were torn, and some did not have the scrutineer’s initials. The judge was not pleased.”

‘Ghost list’

“It was a complete zoo,” he said, “a lot like the electoral list and registration process which were a mess. In some cases, a husband was on the list, but not the wife, or vice versa, or parents were on the list and their children were not. This is the agony we had to go through.”

He says up to 80 people he knows of were kept off the list. “Some forms I brought in personally but were never reflected on the revised lists, and when I complained I was told it was due to ‘limited resources.’”

After numerous complaints, says Cannavino, Bezzaz relented and added some names to the list after the revision period was over. “Not all made it, and I could not reach out to these voters because I didn’t have the full picture of who was on this ‘ghost list.’”

There are a host of accusations and complaints from candidates and voters about the election and the voting process, ranging from voters kept off the list, incomplete candidate paperwork and non-registered voters allowed to vote, to poll workers being sent at the wrong times to wrong locations and last-minute moves rendering stations inaccessible to people with reduced mobility.

Cannavino says the excuse of limited resources is unacceptable. “Resources? This deprived electors of their right to vote! Are you kidding me?”
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