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Fort Smith vote-buying accusation dismissed
Insufficient evidence to support complaint against Martselos: Elections NWT

Herb Mathisen
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, December 1, 2011

A complaint alleging Thebacha candidate Peter Martselos paid two Fort Smith residents for their votes prior to last October's territorial election has been dismissed by Elections NWT.

NNSL photo/graphic

Peter Martselos: Was the target of an election complaint alleging vote buying. - NNSL file photo

Chief electoral officer David Brock said, following his review of the case, there was some uncertainty with the complainants as to when the alleged event or events happened and, therefore, insufficient evidence to move to the investigation stage.

Lawrence Bruno and Raymond Beaulieu claimed Martselos, a candidate for the Thebacha riding in the 2011 territorial election, gave them $20 to vote for him. Olga Mansbridge, Bruno's sister, filed the complaint on behalf of the two men following the election.

As part of the review, Brock interviewed the three complainants and Martselos. He also requested additional documentation from the parties involved, although he said he could not discuss what these documents were due to privacy concerns.

"Through the course of that review, it came to my attention that there was some uncertainty as to the date or dates that the alleged event (was said to have taken place,)" he said.

Martselos, and fellow candidate Jeannie-Marie Jewell, lost the Oct. 3 election to Michael Miltenberger.

When contacted on Nov. 28, Martselos declined to provide comment on the decision.

Mansbridge said she still believes Bruno and Beaulieu were paid for the votes, but she acknowledged there had been some uncertainty about the dates.

"Those guys know that it happened during the advanced polls, but some of them with a disease like that, they aren't going to remember dates and times," she said, adding both men suffer from alcoholism.

Mansbridge said the alleged events took place weeks prior to the election, not on the election date.

"For some reason, when Peter gave an interview, he said it was (alleged to have happened) on the election date, but it didn't happen during the election date, it happened during the advanced polling," she said.

Brock said the file is now closed, adding residents have until Oct. 3, 2012 or one year after the election date to submit complaints to Elections NWT.

"I advised Ms. Mansbridge that if any new evidence came to their attention and they were to submit a new complaint, then I would take it seriously as I do with all others," he said.

On Nov. 29, Mansbridge said she was unsure if she would proceed with an additional complaint, as she had not yet spoken to her brother, Bruno.

She alleged that another community member, who was ineligible to vote in the last election, was also offered money for his vote from Martselos.

The vote-buying accusation was not the sole complaint to come out of the 2011 election.

Brock said several independent complaints made in the Monfwi riding during the election are currently being investigated by Elections NWT. He said there is no timetable for when the investigation will be completed.

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