Abbott, Liberal Party at odds over voting problems ahead of Monday’s convention

Liberal leadership hopeful John Abbott and the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador are at odds over how prevalent voting problems are, only three days before the virtual convention that will decide a new leader. 

In a media release issued Friday afternoon, Abbott said the party should extend the deadline to cast a ballot. 

Abbott is competing for the job against Andrew Furey, an orthopedic surgeon. The virtual convention to decide the party’s next leader, and also premier of the province, is scheduled for Monday.

“People whose names are on the list of registered voters are being denied an opportunity to vote,” he said in the media release, noting it was Day 4 of the voting process. 

Specifically, Abbott said his campaign staff have heard that registered voters still don’t have their PINs, which are needed to vote. Some are still waiting to get them via email, Abbott said. 

“I now fear for the integrity of the voting process. In order to ensure all those who signed up to vote can vote, I’m calling on the party to address the concerns we’ve raised and, if need be, to extend the voting deadline,” Abbott said. 

Abbott said the voter helpline that is supposed to help sort these issues out for people, including instructions on how to vote, is “constantly busy” because it’s understaffed.

“We had one person tell us she called the helpline 13 times over the course of a day and didn’t get through,” said Abbott.

In a statement issued Friday afternoon, Andrew Furey’s campaign says its staff have heard that people have accessed their PINs after calling the voter helpline. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

In a statement sent Friday afternoon, Furey’s campaign said, “We are hearing from some supporters that they have successfully called the voter helpline to obtain their PIN and were then able to vote. In some cases, supporters have chosen to leave a message with the help centre, and in other cases supporters have chosen to call back at a later time. We continue to offer whatever support we can to registered voters, and understand they are successfully voting throughout the process.”

‘Isolated’ problems only: N.L. Liberal Party

The Liberal Party disagrees with Abbott’s portrayal of a problem-plagued voting system, saying the issues he is raising “are isolated, expected and are being addressed as they arise,” according to a statement from Michael King, the party’s executive director.

“We have full confidence in the integrity of this process. Both campaigns are on a level playing field,” he wrote.

King said more than 15,000 people have already voted out of about 34,000 registered voters. 

Michael King, the executive director of the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador, says he has ‘full confidence in the integrity of this process.’ (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

King said the party is aware that some emails, containing PINs, have bounced back, but, he said, that “is likely due to either a typo from when voters entered their email address when they registered or a data entry issue on the part of either campaign.”

Both campaigns have been provided a list of people affected by the bounce-backs so they can follow up with them. 

King admitted the helpline was “initially very busy” but said extra staff have been added. 

“That process is now working smoothly with plenty of time to vote,” King said in the statement. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

Abbott, Liberal Party at odds over voting problems ahead of Monday’s convention

Aggregated from: CBC | Newfoundland and Labrador News

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