Canada

Tight races and mail-in ballots could mean a long wait for winners to be declared in B.C.

“They’re nail-biting races where you’re now biting down to the cuticles, because it’s so nerve wracking.” — Kim Speers, a political analyst, who teaches public administration at the University of Victoria.

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A series of close races, the high volume of mail-in ballots and the possibility of recounts mean it could take weeks before winners are declared in some federal ridings in British Columbia.

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Winners have not been declared in Vancouver-Granville, where Liberal Taleeb Noormohamed leads NDP candidate Anjali Appadurai by just 230 votes. It’s close to a dead heat in Richmond Centre, where Liberal challenger Wilson Miao is leading incumbent Conservative Alice Wong by 671 votes. And the battle also continues in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, where under 1,000 votes separate the NDP’s Lisa Marie Barron from the Conservative’s Tamara Kronis.

“They’re nail-biting races where you’re now biting down to the cuticles, because it’s so nerve wracking,” said Kim Speers, a political analyst, who teaches public administration at the University of Victoria.

The nail biting will continue, since all of those ridings have thousands of mail-in ballots that have yet to be counted.

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Incumbent Liberal candidate Patrick Weiler believes he will hold on to his seat in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky riding.
Incumbent Liberal candidate Patrick Weiler believes he will hold on to his seat in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky riding. Photo by Arlen Redekop /PNG

In West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky, some media outlets have declared Liberal incumbent Patrick Weiler the winner. Weiler is confident he lead will hold, but knows he’ll have to wait until the mail-in ballots are tallied before making a victory speech.

“I can tell you it was a very nerve-racking experience watching the results come in,” Weiler said Monday. “So today, I am answering the hundreds of texts and messages from friends, family and colleagues. I will be having a bit of a relaxing time because it has been a very intense campaign — just spending some time with my partner and our cats, who can get a little bit sassy when we’re not paying much attention to them.”

His opponent, Conservative John Weston, believes he will ultimately be declared the winner, once all of the counting is done.

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“The story isn’t necessarily complete,” Weston said Monday. “We know there are more than 6,000 mail-in ballots to count and the difference between us stands at 2,200, so I am taking my mind off the issue right now by taking down signs around the riding on this nice, sunny day.”

British Columbia has led the country when it comes to mail-in ballots. According to Leger polling, 12 per cent of eligible voters in B.C. opted to cast their vote by mail, which is double the six per cent national average.

Andrew Enns, Leger’s vice-president, believes the experience of B.C. voters in the provincial election is why.

“A large number opted to vote by mail-in the provincial election,” he explained. “The fact that those votes were received and counted and became part of the official result without any controversy — there was no complaining from the other parties. It was a seamless process so people would be confident to do the same in this federal election.”

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Leger interviewed 2,000 Canadians in an online poll Sept. 10-13, with a margin of error, plus or minus 2.19 per cent.

“The results did skew a little bit higher for NDP supporters opting to vote by mail — not by a large amount, but it is noticeable,” Enns said. “Ten per cent of NDP supporters nationally, compared to six or seven per cent for the other two main parties.”

That may only be a factor in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, where the NDP and Conservatives are vying for top spot. Counting the mail in votes begins there on Friday.

Mail-in ballots are counted in the electoral areas where they are from, and delays in beginning such counts can be due to the availability of the local returning officer and the ability to secure a location to count the votes.

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But even after the mail-in ballots are counted in the close ridings, the possibility of a recount looms.

According to Elections Canada, “A judicial recount must take place if the leading candidates in an electoral district receive the same number of votes after the validation of the results or if the difference in votes is less than one one-thousandth of the total votes cast.”

For example, in an electoral district where 40,000 votes were cast, if the difference in the number of votes for the first and second candidates was less than 40, a judicial recount would be required.”

A request must be made to a judge to carry out the recount. A recount may also be requested by an individual if they swear an affidavit saying they believe that the count was improperly carried out, that ballots were improperly rejected, that the statement of the vote contains an incorrect number of votes cast for a candidate, or that the returning officer incorrectly added up the results at the validation.

Although the final vote counts in B.C. won’t affect the Liberal minority government, it will make all the difference to the candidates.

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