Judge points to lack of verification of FST’s disputed votes…

Interesting piece in the Irish News today on the Fermanagh South Tyrone election result, in which Sinn Fein’s Agricultural Minister Michelle Gildernew pipped the Unionist Unity candidate, Rodney Connor by just four votes.

Ian Paisley Junior praying for DUP votes in North Antrim at the 2009 European Election verification in the Kings Hall ... or trying to see first preferences

Mr Connor will be raising the issue of why six more votes than were issued turned up in the final count was not investigated by the deputy returning officer on the night/day in a petition at a three day hearing in Dungannon next week.

The Irish News quotes the Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan:

“The court sees enormous difficulty if these votes are not identified.” He pointed out that if Mr Connor is right, “the six in dispute make all the difference”.

“Your evidence is likely to be that you have two witnesses who claim votes should have been rejected. The deputy returning officer who examined them decided they shouldn’t be rejected but be admitted.

“The court is not going to be able to see the votes. I have to confess, for my own part, I’m astonished, even if it did require the examination of 47,000 votes, that some process wasn’t put in place over the summer.”

Hmmm…. Next week could be very  interesting…

(Note that the image above illustrates the verification of votes in the Kings Hall at the 2009 European election and isn’t FST.)

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  • Didlee D O’Squat

    Sinn Fein was observed on CCTV loading the election into the back of a white van and driving away into the late night traffic.

  • Drumlin Rock

    late night traffic in Tyrone?

  • Didlee D O’Squat

    Oh yes. Even personators have homes they have to get back to.

  • What is the timeline for retention of votes after an election – are they not kept if there is an appeal against the result?

  • joeCanuck

    To paraphrase Paul Daniels:
    You’re gonna like this Michelle, not a lot Rodney.

  • Dewi
  • Dewi

    Sorry that’s in EnglandandWales…

  • Ms Gildernew is in, possession they say is nine points of the law.

    How many millions is it now, sixty. Hmm. I suppose as long as she never has to represent the south…

  • Insider

    It is not 6 extra votes (there were in fact 36 of those) that is the problem, the story is actually that there were 6 votes which should have been rejected, X not applicable to any candidate etc plus the fact that at least two of Connors representatives seen suspicious votes which were not investigated.

  • Cynic

    That’s interesting isn’t it. The Electoral Commission seem not to have bothered much at the time and now the disputed votes have perhaps been ‘lost’. Now why would that be?

  • medillen

    If you want to get into a discussion about pissing away millions, nay billions then lets look to the Ministers in the south. Never mind her fellow DUP ministers who have pissed away, money for stadiums, £430 million worth of savings on the RPA, £30 million savings in ESA. squandered further millions in flawed subsidies to multi nationals through Invest NI and much much more.

  • I thought the plan was SF ministers were better not, at best, more of the same.

  • medillen

    Well fair point, but these problems date back to 2004 and SF only took over the Department in 2007 therefore she is dealing with a long tail of problems not of her making but is moving to correct those mistakes as quickly as they can be, given that farmers were giving wrong information for years and that Department officials who are supposed to checks up should have been more rigourous.

  • medillen

    I know, I was letting off steam because I had high hopes of Ms Gildernew and it looks like they might be dashed.

    I wish her luck, she is going to need it.

  • medillen

    She will indeed given the Department she took on, but to be fair she has made huge change there and I think, given time, her role will be acknowledged by even her opponents.

  • drumlins rock

    Maybe i’m reading this wrong but all Connors team has to do is prove the result is in “doubt” by firstly proving some votes were “questionable” and secondly proving there are enough votes to alter the result of the election, Coopers case a few yrs ago fell on the second hurdle, ie. only 18 or so votes were questionable at most, and the majority was 56, this time with only 4 of a majority the second hurdle is easy, its proving the first is the challenge.
    So far Connors team have said they challenged 6 votes that were later included, the commissioner dosn’t dispute this, but believes they were genuine, however a doubt has been created and only producing the said 6 votes will dis-spell that doubt.