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Gameti election results upheld
Judge throws out claim that voters were ineligible after chief won election by a single vote in 2013

Cody Punter
Northern News Services
Published Monday, January 12, 2015

It looks like a single vote will be enough to keep the chief of Gameti in office.

The legitimacy of David Wedawin's victory in the 2013 election for chief was called into question when rival candidate Edward Chocolate filed a petition alleging several people who voted were ineligible to do so, leading him to ask for a new election to be called.

Wedawin won the election by a single vote, 82-81 on June 10, 2013.

On Dec. 23, the NWT Supreme Court dismissed Chocolate's claim and upheld the election results.

Among Chocolate's grievances were his claim that five of the voters who cast ballots hadn't resided in Gameti in the six months leading up to the election a requirement to be able to vote under the Tlicho Community Government Act.

Justice Louise Charbonneau, who was presiding over the case, acknowledged the individuals in question may not have been living in Gameti in the six months prior to the election.

However, in her ruling she stated that the Tlicho Community Government Act does not provide a definition of what constitutes "an ordinary residence."

As a result, she had to rely on the territory's definition as provided under the Local Authorities Election Act, which states that a voter may reside outside the community for six months prior to the election so long they as are studying, incarcerated, or receiving medial treatment.

Upon reviewing the evidence, which Chocolate presented for each of the five voters, Charbonneau determined there was not enough to prove they were not residents of the community.

"While the evidence establishes that the five individuals in question may not have been physically present in Gameti for the six months before the election, in my view it falls shorts of establishing that they were not ordinary residents of Gameti within the meaning of section 21 of the (act)," Charbonneau wrote in her ruling. Charbonneau also dismissed several other "irregularities" cited by Chocolate, including claims the ballot box at one of the temporary polling stations had been left unattended.

In an interview with News/North, Chocolate said he was "very disappointed" by the decision.

He said the judge had not properly interpreted the Tlicho Community Government Act and maintained that the five people cited in his petition should not have been allowed to vote.

"(Voters) have to be in the community six months before the election," he said.

"I am convinced and I am sure that they were not living in Gameti."

Chocolate said he doesn't plan to appeal the decision because the case has left him broke.

"I spent all my money," he said. "All my money went down the drain."

Wedawin could not be reached for comment by press time.

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