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ELECTION PETITIONS.

♦ THE SUBURBS AND THE CITY SEATS. The interest, not to say anxiety, evinced since the general election regarding the rumonrs of attempts being made to upset the Wellington City and Wellington Suburbs elections has been increasing daily for the past few days. To-morrow is the latest date at which petitions can be lodged, and the strain upon the interested parties as the fatal moment draws nigh : s but too plainly visible. ■WELLINGTON SUBURBS. Yesterday all doubts were set at rest regarding the intention to challenge the Suburbs election by the Returning Officer (Mr. R. Mothes) receiving the following petition addressed to the Chief Justice : — The petition of Edwin Bezar, of Wellington, commission agent, and of Ernest E. Edmunds, of Wellington, settler, showeth : (1) That your petitioners are persons who voted at the above (Wellington Suburbs) election. (2) That the said election was holden on the 4th December, 1896, when Thomas William Hislop and Thomas Mason Wilford were candidates, and the returning officer has returned the said Thomas Mason Wilford as being 1 duly elected. (3.) That before and during the said election the said Thotfias Mason Wilford was himself, and by his agents, guilty of the corrupt practice of bribery, that is to say — (a.) The said Thomas Mason Wilford did himself, and by certain other persons on his behalf, give money to certain electors in order tp induce certain electors to vote at the said election. (I.) The said Thomas Mason Wilford, by himself and by certain other persons on his behalf, did promise to endeavour to procure, and did endeavour to procure, offices or places of employment, for certain electors in order to induce such electors to vote at the said election. ' . '■■ ■ (c.J The said Thomas Mason Wilford by himself, and by certain other persons on his behalf, did promise to endeavour to procure offices or places of employment for certain persons in order to induce such persons to endeavour to procure the return of the said Thomas Mason Wilford to serve in the General Assembly, and in order to induce such persons to endeavour to procure the votes of certain electors at the said election for the said Thomas Mason Wilford. (d) That the said Thomas Mason Wilford paid certain moneys to certain persons with the intent that such moneys should be expended in bribery at tho said election. 4. That the said Thomas Mason Wilford was before and during tne election guilty of illegal practices in employing certain persons to act as canvassers for payment, and for promise of payment, for the purpose of promoting and procuring his election. 5. That the said Thomas Mason Wilford was not legally and properly registered as an elector at the time.cf his nomination as a candidate for election as aforesaid inasmuch as he was registered on the electoral roll for the electoral district of the Wellington suburbs in respect of a non-residential qualification subsequent to the passing of the Electoral Act Amendment Act, 1896, and contrary to the provisions of section 2 thereof. And he was not at the time. of such nomination as aforesaid entitled to be registered on the said electoral roll in respect of a residental qualification ; and he was not otherwise qualified to be elected a member of the House of Representatives. (6) By reason of the matters hereinbefore set out the said Thomas Mason Wilford was and is incapacitated from serving in the present Parliament for the Wellington Suburbs district and tho said election 'and the return of the said Thpmas Mason Wilford were and are void. Wherefore your petitioners pray that it may be determined that the . said Thomas Mason Wilford was not duly elected or returned, and that his election was void ; and in the alternative that the said Thomas William Hislop was the only person duly nominated for the said election for the said district, and was duly elected and ought to have been returned. (Signed) Edwin Bezae. > Eknest Edward Edmunds. Solicitors for petitionersMessrs. Morison and Loughnan. For some reason difficult to understand, it has been asserted that the Returning Officer should not have accepted the petition without having first demanded a bond for £200. Such a statement is quite incorrect, and was no doubt another instance of tho wish being father to the thought. If such was the case the author of tho statement has a very excellent prospect of a disappointment; We are told that there is not tho slightest doubt that the necessary bond will be forthcoming. Three days arc allowed after the day on which the petition i's presented for the deposit of that bond. Until the bond is deposited, however, the Returning Officer will not forward the petition to the Registrar of tho Supreme Court. WELLINGTON CITY. This afternoon the Returning Officer, Mr. W. P. James, received the anxiouslyexpected petition in connection with the Wellington City election. The petition, as in the case of that of the Suburbs, was

addressed to the Chief Justice, and was as follows : — The petition of Arthur Richmond Atkinson, of Wellington, solicitor, whose name is subscribed, sheweth — 1. That your petitioner was a candidate, and claims to have had a right to be returned at the above election. 2. That the election was holden on the 4th day of December, 1596. when your petitioner and George Fisher, Francis Humphries Fraser, John Hutcheson, Andrew Agnew Stuart Menteath, Justinian John Kivern Powell, Robert Stout, Arthur Warburton, and Charles Wilson, were candidates ; and the Returning Officer has returned John Hutcheson, Robert Stout, and George Fisher as being duly elected. 3. That on the evening of the day of the election the Returning Officer unofficially made known the result of the poll as follows : — John Hutcheson ... 6957 Robert Stout 6844 George Fisher ... 6383 Arthur Richmond Atkinson ... 6285 Andrew Agnew Stuart Menteath ... 6093 Charles Wilson ' ... 6037 Francis Humphries Fraser 19U8 Justinian John Kivern Powell ... 194 Atrthur Warburton .:. 101 4. That subsequently, on examining the lists transmitted to him by his several deputies, the Returning Officer found that in the case of one polling booth an error had been made in the ascertainment of the total numbers of votes recorded for each candidate, and that tho rectification of such error would reduce the poll of each of the first four candidates by from 455 to 546 votes, and would reduce the majority of the said George Fisher over your petitioner by 70 votes. .5. That the Returning Officer further, on comparing the certified copies of rolls as required by section 117 of the Electoral Act, 1893, found that 70 persons were noted as having each received ballot papers at more than one polling booth, but not having been satisfied beyond doubt of the identity of such persons he has not disallowed any of the said votes. 6. That the Returning Officer considering 1 that such examination and comparison as in the last two proceeding paragraphs mentioned was a counting of the votes within the meaning of section 116 of the Electoral Act, ; 1893, and that he had no power to open the parcels of ballot papers, did not count the votes as recorded on the said ballot papers, though requested by your petitioner to do so. 7. That on the 11th day of December, 1896, the Returning Officer officially declared the number of votes received by each candidate to be as follows :— John Hutchison ... .;, ...6411, Robert Stout ... 6306 George Fisher ... 5859 Arthur Richmond Atkinson ... ... 5831 Charles Wilson 5570 Andrew Agnew Stuart Menteath „,. 5560 Francis Humphries Fraser 1811 Justinian John Kivern Powell ... 185 Arthur Warburton ... 91 B. That the Returning Officer allowed many votes for. the said George Fisher which are void, and ought to be struck, off the \poll of the said George Fisher, for the, following reasons : — (a). Certain ballot papers were not marked in accordance with the provisions of the said Act. (£). Certain persons personated and voted as and for certain other persons whose names appear on the electoral roll for the said district. (c). Certain persons voted more than once at the said election. (d) Certain persons, knowing their names to be on the roll for the said district and on rolls for other districts, voted at the said election* ; and certain persons, as aforesaid, voted at the said election and at elections for other districts on the same day. (c) Certain persons on the Electoral Roll who were disqualified from voting by reason of their having been employed for the purposes of the election for reward, voted at the said election. (/) Certain aliens and persons under the age of 21 years voted at the said election. (ff.) Certain persons voted who were guilty of illegal practices in having made payment or contract for payment for the purpose of procuring the 'election of the said George Fisher on aceounx of conveyance of electors to the poll by carriages and otherwise. . (A.) Certain persons voted who treated and unduly influenced certain others in order to procure the return of the said George Fisher. ! (i.) Certain persons voted who were treated or unduly influenced by certain others in order to procure the return of the said Georgo Fisher. 9. That certain ballot papers sp^ aside under section 105 of the*.. - o«snt to be added to the poll of your petitiouc 10. That certain persons entitled to vote were refused ballot papers at the said election. 11. That the said election was not conducted, in' accordance with the principles laid down in the Electoral Act, 1893, and in particular was not conducted in accorddance with the principle of the secrecy of the ballot, inasmuch as in the case of many ballot papers given to and used by electors, the Returning Officer and his deputies failed to secure, as required by. section 100 of the said -Act, the corners • thereof upon which were written the numbers of such electors upon the electoral roll, and that this omission became generally known among electors outside the polling booths, in consequence whereof many electors were deterred from voting at the said election, and the result of the said election was thereby affected. 12. That certain persons were obstructed and deterred from exercising their votes by reason of the violent conduct near the polling booths oh the day of the said election of persons acting in opposition to the candidature of your petitioner. 13. Abd your petitioner further says that he had a majority of valid and lawful votes at the said election. ' .' • Wherefore your petitioner prays :-— 1. That a scrutiny may be had and held of the votes given and tendered atthe said election, and that a re-count of the said votes be had and held, and that it may he determined that the said George Fisher was not duly elected or returned, and that your petitioner was duly elected and ought to have been returned. 2. Or, in the alternative, that the election of the said George Fisher may be declared void. > The solicitor for the petitioner is Charles Bruce Morison, whose address for service is at the office of Messrs. Morison and Loughnan, at 11, Featherston-street, in the City of Wellington. The law provides that the grounds of complaint, which must be specifically stated in the petition, t hall he investigated by two Judges of the Supreme Court in the usual manner. At the conclusion of the enquiry the Judges are to certify their decision in writing and forward it to the Speaker of the House. .Upon this certificate being given the decision of tho Court becomes final. Should the Judges happen to differ they are to make no report upon the subject upon which the difference of opinion exists. If they determine that the member petitioned against was not duly elected or returned, but differ •as to the rest of the deter 11 ' nation, they must certify that differ and the election shall be deemed to br The Hou.se, on receiving the Judge' tificate and report, has to order the be entered on the Journals of tfo and to give the necessary directios firming or altering the return, or a writ for a new election, or for c determination into execution, stances may require.

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Bibliographic details

ELECTION PETITIONS., Evening Post, Volume LIII, Issue 5, 7 January 1897

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ELECTION PETITIONS. Evening Post, Volume LIII, Issue 5, 7 January 1897

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