Most postal votes should be counted by Wednesday: Elections Canada

·4 min read

OTTAWA — A clutch of close-run ridings, including a nail-biting photo finish in Vancouver Granville, are still waiting for mail ballots to be counted to determine the final result.

But Elections Canada says it expects most of the 850,000 postal votes, which were not counted on Monday night, to be tallied by the end of Wednesday.

Three new ridings that were still too close to call on election night — Fredericton, Northwest Territories and Yukon — were declared on Wednesday for the Liberals after the count wrapped up.

But in a number of knife-edge races, candidates were holding their breath to see if mail ballots confirm the results of in-person votes.

In Edmonton Griesbach, where The Canadian Press is projecting Blake Desjarlais delivered a notable victory for the NDP over the Conservatives — mail ballots are still being counted.

Some 1,660 ballots were still being counted on Wednesday in one of the tightest races of the election in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. A mere 30 votes separate Liberal incumbent Terry Sheehan from Conservative Sonny Spina.

In Trois-Rivières, Que., where the Bloc Québécois is leading by a handful of votes in a closely-fought struggle between the Bloc, the Liberals and Conservatives, mail ballots are likely to clinch the final result.

An analysis of mail ballot results by a public opinion research firm has shown that of all the postal votes counted so far, the majority are from Liberal voters.

Quito Maggi, a data scientist and pollster, found that Liberal supporters were far more likely to have voted by mail than Tories and NDP supporters.

He said progressive voters — as in the United States — were more inclined to opt to vote by post, rather than attend polling stations, during the COVID pandemic.

Maggi's analysis found that an estimated 40 per cent of postal ballots were from Liberal voters, compared to 30 per cent from Conservatives and 16 per cent from people who voted NDP. Only eight per cent of Bloc voters voted by mail, in ridings declared so far.

"Liberals have a much larger lead in the mail-in ballots," Maggi said.

"Like in the U.S., more progressive voters were frightened to go out during the pandemic and ordered their mail-in ballots. Most of the Conservative vote is in rural ridings. There's less fear and apprehension of going out to vote in places such as rural Saskatchewan."

Final results continued to roll in across the country yesterday as mail ballots were counted. But Elections Canada warned that in some ridings with thousands of postal votes final results may not be available until Friday.

In some constituencies, verifying mail ballots took all day Tuesday, before counting could start, a spokesman for Elections Canada confirmed.

Mail ballots have to be carefully checked to ensure they have been signed and that people have not already voted in person, or sent in more than one ballot by post.

In tight ridings, candidates are likely to ask for a recount, which could further delay the result.

Many results have yet to be finally declared in close-run battles where mail ballots could dictate who wins and who misses out.

In Nanaimo-Ladysmith, 989 votes separate New Democrat Lisa Marie Barron from Conservative Tamara Kronis. On Wednesday, 6,892 postal votes were still being counted.

In Richmond Centre, 691 votes separate Liberal Wilson Miao from Conservative incumbent Alice Wong. There are 4,463 mail ballots still being tallied.

British Columbia received the most mail ballots of all the provinces.

In Victoria, more than 12,600 people voted by mail, the most in Canada, followed by Saanich-Gulf Islands where over 10,700 people opted for postal votes.

Matthew McKenna, a spokesman for Elections Canada, said verifying huge numbers of ballots had delayed counting in some areas.

"The counting of local ballots will take place throughout the day — local offices also had to do verifications of special ballots, and for many, that took all day yesterday," he said Wednesday. "We do expect the vast majority to be counted by the end of the day."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 22, 2021.

Marie Woolf, The Canadian Press

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