Newfoundland and Labrador’s abrupt shift to a mail-in election in February has caused a mess, leading to more than 16,000 calls for help. Health Canada was required to step in and remedy the situation. On March 14, the chief electoral officer Bruce Chaulk wrote to all political parties:
“While I recognize that this process has taken longer than expected, it would be appreciated if candidates making complaints do so in a civil manner. My staff has worked extremely hard during this election, and the tone and manner of some complaints border on harassment and unparliamentarily conduct.”
This document was obtained by The Canadian Press after requesting all correspondence between party leaders and Elections Newfoundland and Labrador. This document shows that Chaulk tried to build a system to count more than 120,000 mail-in ballots.
Matthew McKenna, an Elections Canada spokesman, said:
“That was out of the ordinary for us to give support to the provincial election body.”
The huge number of calls made room for illegal activity. The NDP and the Tories were growing increasingly concerned with the mess caused by the huge number of calls.
Progressive Conservative campaign consultant Steve Kent wrote a mail to Chaulk:
“We have also become aware of batch sign-ups — someone calling, and signing up multiple voters, without ID verification. Is this actually being permitted?”
Kent said that Chaulk never answered that question. Kent also alleged Elections NL staff were
“deliberately obstructing [Hynes’s] view at times, concealing papers and information.”
“These decisions and actions have undermined his legal entitlement to do his work as a scrutineer,” Kent wrote. “Further, they undermine the election process.”
After seeing that statement, Chaulk answered:
“If challenged in court we are prepared to defend our actions on these issues.”