Some Results Hang on Just a Handful of Votes, as Mail Ballot Count Continues

By The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press
September 24, 2021 Updated: September 24, 2021

OTTAWA—Recounts are expected in a clutch of close-run ridings, where a handful of votes separates the victor from the loser, according to election experts.

As the counting of mail-in ballots continued in many ridings across the country on Thursday, a few races remained too close to call.

In most ridings in Quebec, Ontario and Atlantic Canada counting was complete by Thursday afternoon, as well as in the Yukon and Northwest Territories.

But across B.C.—where more mail-in ballots were received than any other province—election officials were still tallying thousands of votes.

As the remaining results rolled in, election experts warned that, in a few photo-finish ridings, a recount will have to settle who ultimately sits in Parliament.

Experts say a recount is expected in the Winnipeg riding of Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley where Conservative Marty Morantz beat Liberal Doug Eyolfson by just 24 votes.

Elections Canada said on Thursday afternoon that counting had finished there and results were being verified.

A judicial recount would likely be triggered in the Winnipeg seat, because the margin is so small, experts said.

Quito Maggi, a pollster who runs public opinion firm Mainstreet Research, said voters should expect recounts in a number of ridings.

“The Charleswood seat is heading for a judicial recount. I suspect that at least two or three other (candidates) will ask to go to recount,” Maggi said.

“We noticed at this election that there were a larger number than expected close races. The turnout was way, way down too. At least 1.2 million fewer people voted in this election than the last election.”

An automatic judicial recount is triggered if there is a tie between the two leading candidates or if the difference in votes is fewer than one one-thousandth of the total votes cast.

In other tight races, the loser has the option to go to court to ask for the votes to be counted again. The NDP, Conservatives and Liberals did not say, when asked by The Canadian Press, whether they would demand recounts in ridings where they have come second by a tiny margin of votes.

Among the close-run results is in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., where less than one percent of the vote separates the Liberals and the Conservatives. Liberal Terry Sheehan narrowly fought off Tory Sonny Spina by 247 votes after mail ballots were counted.

In Vancouver Granville, another close race, the counting of mail-in ballots continued. Liberal candidate Taleeb Noormohamed has been narrowly leading New Democrat Anjali Appadurai.

In the Davenport riding in Toronto, the Liberals’ Julie Dzerowicz won by fewer than 200 votes, after a close-fought challenge from the NDP.

The NDP snatched Edmonton Griesbach from the Tories, with a greater than expected margin, after a dynamic campaign by two-spirit Metis leader, Blake Desjarlais.

Elections Canada expected more ridings to finish counting mail-in ballots Thursday night. But in some with thousands of postal votes—many of them in B.C. —counting will continue on Friday.

On Thursday afternoon, several B.C. ridings, including Nanaimo-Ladysmith, which is the site of a fierce battle between the NDP, Conservatives and Greens, were still counting.

In Victoria, B.C., elections officials were busy tallying up more than 12,600 ballots sent in by mail—the most in Canada.

Counting was also progressing in Saanich-Gulf Islands, where over 10,700 people have opted for postal votes and Elizabeth May, the former Green party leader, was on Thursday declared the winner.

But in Richmond Centre, B.C., voters were holding their breath as mail ballots were tallied in an epic battle between rookie Wilson Miao and veteran incumbent Alice Wong.

On Thursday, Liberal Miao had a narrow lead over veteran Conservative Wong who has been the local MP since 2008.

Elections Canada said it expected counting to be completed in almost all ridings by Friday.

By Marie Woolf