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Court to hear Tk'emlups election challenge
Last year's election of Shane Gottfriedson as chief of Tk'emlups Indian Band will be reviewed in court on Monday, Feb. 18, after one of his challengers petitioned to have the election's results tossed and held again.
Marie Baptiste had challenged incumbent Gottfriedson for chief in the November election.
Election of TIB councillors is also included in the challenge, which is based on notice to voters who do not live on the reserve that including a different election date than those who live on the reserve.
The election was held on Nov. 10, but off-reserve voters were told it would happen on Nov. 27, according to Baptiste's petition and supporting documentation.
The TIB sent a notice to off-reserve voters, a notice that included conflicting election sates in the following passages:
• "Seal and drop the return envelope in the mail or otherwise deliver to the Electoral Officer before the close of Polls on November 10th, 2012. You may hand deliver your ballot to the Electoral Officer, or have it hand delivered by another person."
• "Your ballot must be received by the Electoral no later than 8 p.m. on November 27 , 2012. lf mailing your ballot, please allow adequate time for your ballot to reach the Electoral Office. Ballots received after the close of the poll on November 27, 2012 will not be counted."
Baptiste's petition to the court states she had a telephone conversation with TIB electoral officer Marcus Hadley regarding the mail-in ballots.
The petition states Hadley confirmed 377 mail-in ballots were sent out, with 11 received before the actual Nov. 10 election date. When she asked Hadley how many mail-in ballots arrived after the Nov. 10 election date (due to mail-in ballots having the erroneous Nov. 27 election date), Baptiste said the response from Hadley was: "Don't know. The mailbox in Kamloops was closed on November 11, 2012. Any ballots received after that date would have been returned to sender."
Baptiste's petition also notes the notice of election sent to off-reserve voters had the wrong address of the polling station.
Off-reserve voters received this notice: "lf you would prefer to vote at the polling station rather than by mail in ballot: You may vote on November 27, 2012. between 8:00 am. and 8:00 pm. at the Gymnasium of the Sk’elep School of Excellence, 315 Yellowhead Hwy, Kamloops BC."
In fact, the voting location was Moccasin Square
Gardens,357 Yellowhead Hwy.
Baptiste's petition also noted two candidates who withdrew from the election — Alice McCaleb for chief and Lyndsey "Dessa" Gottfriedson for council — remained on the ballot.
Baptiste argues leaving those names on the ballot may have had an impact on the council election.
In announcing the election results in November, TIB officials did not release the votes cast for chief or for unsuccessful candidates, the number of voters or how many of those eligible took part in the election.
According to documents, however, there were 902 eligible voters in the election, with 399 casting ballots for chief — Gottfriedson received 250; Baptiste garnered 103.
Baptiste sent her documentation to TIB members and, included in it, she notes she brought her concerns to the council and chief, but did not receive a reply.