Patty Cuttell, left, won the council race in District 11, defeating Bruce Holland, right, by just 28 votes.

A judicial recount has been scheduled for this coming Monday to officially declare the winner of the council seat in Halifax’s District 11.

Patty Cuttell won the race to represent Spryfield-Sambro Loop-Prospect Road, beating runner-up Bruce Holland by 28 votes. Given the close result and a delay in reporting the results, Holland called for a recount, telling the Examiner, “I think I owe it to my campaign team and my supporters who have all asked me to ask for one.”

Judge Paul Scovil will hear Holland’s application for a recount on Monday at 9:30am.

“If he rules that the recount can go ahead, then he, court staff and the HRM returning officer will proceed with counting the ballots,” courts spokesperson Jennifer Stairs said in an email.*

The application and, if approved, the recount won’t happen in a courthouse, but in a Dartmouth hotel.

“Due to the number of court staff, candidates, counsel and other participants, there wasn’t a courtroom big enough to accommodate the group and still respect physical distancing, hence the off-site location,” Stairs said.

Due to those space constraints, media won’t be able to watch the recount, but the results will be distributed afterward.

The scheduled recount means Cuttell won’t be sworn in with her colleagues during a ceremony at the Halifax Convention Centre Thursday night.

In a news release on Wednesday, Cuttell’s campaign says she’s “unaware of any instance where a recount has resulted in a change in the election outcome.”

“We have asked for a copy of the submission requesting the recount to understand the basis for the ask. That has not been made available to date,” Cuttell said in the release.

Under the Municipal Elections Act, a judge asked to perform a recount can dismiss an application if it’s “frivolous or vexatious.” That hasn’t happened in this case, and there have been recounts in recent races with wider gaps between first and second finishers.

In 2016, for example, there was a recount of the race in District 9, where Coun. Shawn Cleary won by more than 100 votes.

The Municipal Elections Act says that after a recount “the clerk shall, at the first regular or special meeting of the council after the recapitulation sheet has been received from the judge, declare elected the candidate, or candidates if more than one, having the largest number of votes according to the recapitulation sheet, with the term of office of each candidate.”

If the recount determines there’s a tie, that means “determining the successful candidate by placing the names of the candidates on equal size pieces of paper placed in a box and one name being drawn by a person chosen by the clerk.”

*Update — Thursday, Oct. 29: This article has been updated to clarify the process happening on Monday.


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Zane Woodford

Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

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6 Comments

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  1. I think Colin and Bruce are overstating their views. It is extremely rare for a plurality of this size to be overturned after a recount.

    Can they give examples of one? If not, they should withdraw their sneers.

    1. She got less than 19.6% of the vote in a 12 candidate race.
      Zane explains why the request for a recount is not unusual – re-read the last 4 paragraphs of the article. Mr Holland is entitled to a recount and if he wanted to be nasty could have waited 10 days before asking for a recount. He asked for a recount 3 days after the election and paid $200.
      She needs to learn that you win with grace and lose with grace.

      1. I note that the commentators have not yet come up with an example of where a plurality of 28 votes or more have led to a victory by the appealing party.

        The ad hom. comments seem misguided too. I fail to see where Ms Cuttell has acted ‘ungraciously’.

        We should know by now (Tuesday) what the result on the appeal has been but no word yet!

        1. 25 or more electronic votes were disallowed. You fail to accept the Municipal Elections Act. Having been active in many elections at all 3 levels I have never heard of any apparent winner complaining about a 2nd place candidate seeking a recount.
          Judging by her moaning i suggest she would have sought a recount if she had finished 2nd by such a narrow margin. Supporters of and voters who voted for Holland probably support a recount. Ms Cuttell was rejected by over 80% of the people who voted.