By Fran Yanor / Legislative Reporter
The final count of 660,000 mail-in and absentee ballots this past weekend increased the NDP majority by two seats and confirmed local Liberal MLAs Shirley Bond and Peter Milobar will return to the legislature.
“It’s humbling to have the support of 48 per cent of British Columbians,” said Premier John Horgan. “We’ll be announcing a new cabinet and a new government in the days and weeks ahead.”
The final count increased the NDP majority from 55 to 57 seats, leaving the Liberals with one less at 28 seats. The BC Greens had their caucus reduced by a third when their election day win of three seats dwindled to two MLAs in the final count. Although that third seat might yet return to the Greens as a judicial recount has been ordered in the West Vancouver-Sea-to-Sky riding where only 41 votes separated the top Liberal candidate and his BC Green runner up.
Never before have mail-in ballots had such potential to change the outcome of so many races. As of election day, four ridings had less than 200 votes between the top two candidates and almost 20 ridings had less than a 1,000 vote difference.
A final count of mail-in and absentee ballots always occurs 13 days following a provincial election but previously few people voted by mail, so the effect on overall election results was minimal. This election, held during a pandemic, saw about 600,000 people vote by mail, almost a 100 times more than in 2017, when about 6,500 people mailed in their ballot. In Prince George-Valemount, 34 people mailed in their ballots during the last election.
About 66,000 absentee ballots were also included in the final count. Absentee ballots include votes cast outside of a voter’s electoral district and specially arranged voting, such as at hospitals, residential seniors facilities and remote communities.
The Prince George-Valemount riding had 4,105 mail-in and absentee ballots which widened MLA Bond’s election day lead from almost 4,000 votes to just shy of 5,000 over her closest competitor, NDP candidate Laura Parent.
Whereas Kamloops-North Thompson incumbent MLA Peter Milobar saw his lead narrow from almost 800 votes more than NDP Sadie Hunter on election day, to a 416 vote lead in the final count.
Either way, the results are ultimately the same, as both Milobar and Bond will return to the Victoria legislature to represent constituents for a four-year term.
Fran Yanor / Local Journalism Initiative / [email protected]