Election vote re-count ‘a disgrace’: Brunker
WHITSUNDAY Regional Council's new Division 6 councillor Mike Brunker has blasted the delay in declaring Andrew Willcox our new mayor, calling it "a disgrace".
Despite being 2182 votes ahead of incumbent mayor Jenny Whitney, Cr Willcox was reportedly told by electoral officers this morning they were re-counting Saturday's votes, and normal counting would resume 11am tomorrow.
"Why wouldn't they do regular updates?" Mr Brunker said.
"Now I hear, with Andrew being 1500 in front (last time I checked), they're going to do a re-count on Saturday's.
"They must just be stretching it out so they can get their pay for the full 10 days. Why else would they do it? If he was 50 in front, you could understand it if it was very close, but to do a recount on Saturday's is just ludicrous."
Mr Brunker laughed as he was asked if he was worried results would change for him - he currently has 78.56% of the vote for Division 6, leaps and bounds ahead of John Smith (14.29%) and Jeff Hawkins (7.15%).
"It doesn't worry me; it's just people are asking me about the mayor and people want more information," he said.
"I just think it's a joke myself. But I'm happy and I'm looking forward to working with the new mayor."
Mr Brunker said other council candidates had been calling Cr Willcox to find out what the hold-up was.
"Why would you (need to do a re-count)? There's no rhyme or reason why you'd do it," Mr Brunker said.
"If there were 20, 30 or 50 votes difference you could understand wanting to double check but when there's 1500 votes in front you've gotta ask yourself why.
"I'm tipping they'll let it go the whole 10 days... they'll let it run out because they don't have to declare it until 10 days after the poll."
He said there had been issues since the Electoral Commission took over running local government elections.
"When local government used to run the elections, the CEO used to be able to say 'righto, the candidate with 1500 votes in front, there's only 400 votes to count so I am declaring him or her the winner' and that's how it was done," Mr Brunker said.
"But the Electoral Commission, obviously people getting paid by the Electoral Commission it's in their interests to stay there longer and draw it out.
"It's interesting with me, I've won 78% of the vote - I can't be beaten - but are they going to let me go the full 10 days before they declare it? And I think they are and it's just ridiculous in this day and age."
Despite ECQ staff reportedly informing Cr Willcox there was a re-count, an Electoral Commission spokesman told the Whitsunday Times there was "no issue or problem with counting".
"Our post-election processes are proceeding as planned and on schedule," a spokesman said.
"Returning officers were performing a variety of administrative tasks yesterday including check counts and dealing with the return of material and equipment from polling booths."
Electoral Commissioner Walter van der Merwe said Saturday morning's polling was strong and there had been very few issues from canvassers at polling booths.
"While we expected a few challenges due to the enormity of the parallel events, it is very pleasing to see that voting is going well today," he said.
The ECQ said a declaration of the result for each mayoral and councillor election and for the referendum would not be made if there is a mathematical possibility that more than one candidate or argument could win.
"Consequently, a result may not be declared until 10 days after polling day when postal votes are due to be returned to the Commission," a release stated.