B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)

Mail-in ballots could shift outcomes in tight B.C. election contests

Final count begins Friday for 662,000 votes province-wide

With the majority of votes counted on election night, the NDP majority isn’t in doubt as Elections B.C. staff around the province dig into a mountain of mail-in and absentee ballots that have been sent back to each of 87 constituencies.

There were a record 662,236 mail-in and absentee ballots cast in the Oct. 24 election, but overall turnout in the COVID-19 restricted and unscheduled vote was just over 52 per cent, the second lowest voter participation on record for B.C.

Election-day and advance poll votes for the 2020 vote leave NDP leader John Horgan with 55 seats, a significant jump from the 2017 result that saw the NDP and three B.C. Green MLAs form a minority government with a two-seat margin over the B.C. Liberals. The NDP’s 14-seat gain was all at the expense of the B.C. Liberals under leader Andrew Wilkinson, with the B.C. Greens apparently holding three seats despite the loss of former leader Andrew Weaver’s Oak Bay-Gordon Head seat to the NDP.

One of the closest results is Vernon-Monashee, where the NDP’s Harwinder Sandhu has 6,618 votes, close behind incumbent B.C. Liberal Eric Foster’s 6,801. There are 8,581 mail-in and absentee ballots still to come there.

In Skeena, B.C. Liberal incumbent Ellis Ross has about a 900-vote lead over B.C. NDP challenger Nicole Hallbauer, with 1,345 votes still to be counted. Rural seats generally saw fewer mail-in ballots than urban ones.

One of the highest mail-in totals is in Parksville-Qualicum, which has 13,306 ballots still to come. B.C. Liberal incumbent Michelle Stilwell is about 1,000 votes behind the NDP’s Adam Walker, in a traditional B.C. Liberal seat that saw nearly 1,000 votes go to Conservative candidate Don Purdey in the election-night count.

B.C. Green Party supporters will be watching closely as almost 7,000 mail-in and absentee ballots are counted in West Vancouver-Sea to Sky, where Green candidate Jeremy Valeriote has a 600-vote lead on B.C. Liberal incumbent Jordan Sturdy, a two-term MLA. Valeriote would be the first Green MLA elected on the B.C. mainland.

Green leader Sonia Furstenau finished about 1,100 votes ahead of the NDP’s Rob Douglas in Cowichan Valley, after a scramble to nominate candidates and produce a platform for an election called a week after Furstenau was elected leader. Furstenau received 8,631 votes on election night, and there are 10,425 mail-in and absentee ballots still to be considered.

With incumbent Green Adam Olsen holding a two-to-one lead over the NDP’s Zeb King in Saanich North and the Islands, the B.C. Greens need one more seat confirmed to retain official party status in the B.C. legislature.

RELATED: No COVID-19 exposures found from B.C. election

RELATED: NDP’s promised pandemic payments have to wait

Election-night results show both Chilliwack and Chilliwack-Kent switching from long-time B.C. Liberal seats to the NDP. Incumbent Laurie Throness is 195 votes behind the NDP’s Kelli Paddon in Chilliwack Kent, after Throness resigned from the party during the campaign over his criticism of the NDP’s promise to provide free birth control.

In Chilliwack, the NDP’s Dan Coulter has already been congratulated by B.C. Liberal incumbent John Martin after Coulter’s election night count was more than 1,000 ahead of Martin’s. There are 5,058 mail-in and absentee ballots still to be counted in Chilliwack, in addition 11,920 votes counted on election night, and 7,325 in Chilliwack-Kent to add to the 15,613 that were counted on Oct. 24.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureBC politicsBC Votes 2020

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

File photo
Castlegar sees spike in crime over winter

Local RCMP report increase in calls

Kirk Duff is running for mayor in the upcoming Castlegar byelection Photo: Submitted
Third candidate enters Castlegar mayor’s race

Kirk Duff previously served 18 years as a city councillor

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
43 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

368 cases in the region remain active

The Kaslo Outdoor Recreation and Trail Society will build a trail on Mount Buchanan, seen here with society secretary Stuart Heard, with support from Columbia Basin Trust. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay trails receive Columbia Basin Trust funding

Several locations in the West Kootenay are undergoing upgrades

A member of the Avalanche Canada South Rockies field team gathers important snowpack data that is used to produce daily avalanche forecasts for the region. Photo by Jennifer Coulter.
Warming temperatures increase avalanche risk heading into the weekend

Warm temperatures impact conditions, human behaviour

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
B.C. mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

(Pxhere)
B.C. research reveals how pandemic has changed attitudes towards sex, health services

CDC survey shows that 35 per cent of people were worried about being judged

Some Canadians are finding butter harder than usual, resulting in an avalanche of social media controversy around #buttergate. (Brett Williams/The Observer)
#Buttergate: Concerns around hard butter hit small B.C. towns and beyond

Canadians find their butter was getting harder, blame palm oil in part one of this series

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon speaks in the B.C. legislature, describing work underway to make a small business and tourism aid package less restrictive, Dec. 10, 2020. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends deadline for tourism, small business COVID-19 grants

Business owners expect months more of lost revenues

The Black Diamond / PIEPS Avalanche transceivers being recalled. (Image courtesy of PIEPS)
Black Diamond, PIEPS issue recall for avalanche transceivers

PIEPS said that avalanche incidents in 2017 and 2020 had prompted the recall, but defended the product

Most Read