Fredericton election winner won't be known until at least Wednesday

·3 min read
Liberal candidate Jenica Atwin and Conservative candidate Andrea Johnson are still vying for a spot in Parliament one day after the federal election. (Jacques Poitras/CBC - image credit)
Liberal candidate Jenica Atwin and Conservative candidate Andrea Johnson are still vying for a spot in Parliament one day after the federal election. (Jacques Poitras/CBC - image credit)

People in the Fredericton riding won't know their next MP until Wednesday — at the earliest.

On Tuesday, the day after Canadians again elected a Liberal minority government, Elections Canada is verifying 2,283 local mail-in ballots in Fredericton.

And they won't be counted until Wednesday.

"It could take up to five days," said Françoise Enguehard, a spokesperson for Elections Canada in the Atlantic region.

Enguehard was speaking about the ridings across Canada where a winner has yet to be determined, and she wouldn't explain why it would take so long to count mail-in ballots in Fredericton.

Jenica Atwin, who held the Fredericton seat in the last Parliament, is ahead of Conservative Andrea Johnson by 501 votes.

As of 2:15 p.m., Atwin had 37 per cent of the vote, with 15,187 votes. That was just one percentage point ahead of Andrea Johnson, who'd nabbed 14,686 votes.

COVID-19 means more mail-in ballots

Once the verification process is finished, the ballots will be put into a ballot box before the votes are counted. Scrutineers from the different parties oversee this process.

"We have told everyone that where the races would be very tight, it was possible the results might not be known for several days," she said.

Once the local mail-in ballots start getting counted, Elections Canada said it will update its website between two and three times a day for ridings across the country, including Fredericton, where a final result has yet to be determined.

Enguehard attributed the jump in mail-in ballots to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We suggested that that may be an option for a lot of people who didn't want to be in contact with other people," she said.

"People who suspected they would in isolation or were afraid they were going to be self-isolating. People who were travelling."

During the election campaign, Enguehard received many questions from people about how the organization would make sure voting was legitimate with the mail-in ballots.

"This is what we do, we're going to take the day today … to verify and make sure every vote is legit and everything will be counted properly after that."

A tight race

It's been a tight race between the Liberals and Tories in Fredericton.

The two were trading spots for first place throughout election night and into the morning.

"I'm reminded every day that I made the right choice to join the Liberal Party of Canada," Atwin told a crowd of about 40 supporters at her headquarters in downtown Fredericton on Monday night.

Just down the street, Johnson told CBC News at Conservative headquarters that she's not surprised the race against Atwin has been close.

"In 2019 it was tight," Johnson said. "There were a lot of factors into play this time that weren't in play last time."

The Fredericton riding has drawn a lot of attention this federal election because Atwin, who made history as a winning candidate for the Green Party in 2019, switched to the Liberals three months ago.

In the 2019 election, Fredericton claimed the first Green seat outside British Columbia.

This time around, Fredericton's Green Party didn't do as well as they had hoped.

8-vote difference between Greens and NDP

As of Monday afternoon, Green Party candidate Nicole O'Byrne had 13 per cent of the vote, with 5,383 votes.

NDP candidate Shawn Oldenburg was a mere eight votes ahead of her. The NDP has never sent a Fredericton candidate to Parliament.

Jen Smith, who ran as an Independent, was in fifth with 292 votes. Brandon Kirby, Libertarian Party of Canada had 221 votes, and June Patterson of the Communist Party of Canada had 148 votes.

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