Essex Mayor pleads guilty to Election Act offence

Essex Mayor Larry Snively speaks at a groundbreaking on June 16, 2021. Photo provided by Town of Essex.

Town of Essex Mayor Larry Snively has pleaded guilty to one count under the Elections Act to procuring a person to vote in an election who is not permitted to do so.

Snively was elected as mayor in the municipal election held in October of 2018.

The OPP began an investigation into allegations of forged signatures on proxy ballots shortly after the election concluded. In February 2020, Snively was charged with procuring persons to vote in a municipal election when those persons were not entitled to do so.

In the agreed statement of facts read by Crown Attorney Brian White, Snively filled out proxy vote ballots contrary to instructions in 32 instances.

While Snively pleaded guilty to the offence, it was also stated that, at the time the proxies were submitted, he believed they were done properly and he was confident the individuals intended to vote for him in the election.

In at least some of the occurrences, the individuals had language barriers, were elderly and/or had a dementia diagnosis.

”Despite this concerning development, our residents can be assured that our Council together with Town Administration will continue to serve our residents and move the business of the Town progressively forward as a great place to live, work and play.” said Doug Sweet, Chief Administrative Officer following the court proceedings. “It is important to note that throughout the process, the Town acted diligently both by immediately requesting the O.P.P. to independently investigate this matter, and by providing ongoing cooperation with authorities.”

Justice of the Peace Susan Hoffman issued a $10,000 fine after accepting the guilty plea. Snively has 180 days to pay the fine.

During the course of the court proceedings, the lawyers indicated Snively does not intend to run in the upcoming municipal election.