A quirk in the legislation surrounding Local Government Elections has resulted in the need for a complete recount of ballots, from the first redistribution or 'preliminary count'.
Early this morning, Gunnedah Returning Officer Ian Horwood advised of what was called a relatively minor error in calculation of the quota of votes to achieve a council seat.
It was discovered that the quota was in fact 701 votes, rather than 702, which had been calculated following the preliminary count.
As a result, the Election Manager has directed a complete recount to ensure complete accuracy and compliance with the Local Government Regulations.
It is expected the declaration will be delayed by about one day, with declaration expected on Friday.
AT 4PM yesterday four of the Gunnedah Shire’s councillor hopefuls had reached elected status, including former mayor Gae Swain who threw her hat back into the ring after four years in retirement.
Incumbent councillors Colleen Fuller, Steve Smith and Hans Allgayer were the next three candidates to be elected.
During the ninth round of preferences – counted yesterday afternoon – it appeared Owen Hasler and Tim Duddy were likely to fill the fifth and sixth seats on Gunnedah Shire Council.
It was anticipated the full contingent of nine councillors would be known late last night but a final check count was not likely to be held until this morning.
Just before 4.30pm Trish Conway joined candidates Sharon Tailby, John Molloy and Fiona Hoddle on the list of candidates excluded from the count.
Those in the know suggested yesterday afternoon it was likely the remaining four councillors would be elected as a result of the distribution of preferences without making the necessary vote quota.
Current mayor Adam Marshall – who did not stand for re-election – said the order of the final
councillors to be elected was likely to come down to the wire.
He said there had been such an even flow of preferences it was hard to tell which candidates were likely to be elected next.
“At varying times throughout the count the votes have been exhausted,” he said.
The distribution of preferences yesterday afternoon suggested Mr Hasler and Mr Duddy would be the next two candidates most likely to reach the required quota of votes.
Mr Marshall suggested the final three available seats on the council may be awarded to candidates who failed to meet the required vote quota.
David Quince and Rebecca Ryan were best placed to be elected after Mr Hasler and Mr Duddy.
Mr Quince was sitting on 551 votes and Mrs Ryan on 545 before the 10th round of preferences were counted.
It also looked likely incumbent councillor Gwen Griffen and new- comer Wayne Griffiths would contest the ninth, and final available seat – at 4.30pm only 22 votes separated Ms Griffen, 485 votes and Mr Griffiths, 463 votes.
Mr Marshall said it was the first time in a long time he had seen an election in Gunnedah come down to the wire.
“Votes in the 2008 election were counted relatively quickly,” he said.
“About six councillors were elected after preferences were distrubuted in the early counts.
“This election the preferences have been much more evenly distributed and a lot of the candidates didn’t poll highly based on first preferences. That’s why it’s likely the final few councillors are likely to be elected without reaching quota, which is quite unique.”