Oak Bay High voting station was slow and steady for the provincial election day, Oct. 24, 2020, as the Oak-Bay Gordon Head riding had the third-most mail-in votes of all B.C. ridings. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Oak Bay High voting station was slow and steady for the provincial election day, Oct. 24, 2020, as the Oak-Bay Gordon Head riding had the third-most mail-in votes of all B.C. ridings. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Mail-in ballots for South Island exceed election day

Trio of South Island ridings have most mail-in ballots in B.C. as count set to begin

As Elections BC starts the final tally of mail-in ballots on Friday, three ridings on the South Island will have more ballots to count this weekend than were counted on election day.

This comes despite the fact BC NDP has largely been acclaimed the provincial winner, based on the Oct. 24 election results.

However, in Victoria-Beacon Hill, there were 13,674 votes counted on Oct. 24 while an estimated 16,696 mail-in votes were returned. It’s the highest number of mail-in and absentee ballots of any riding in B.C.

Saanich North and the Islands is the second-most in B.C. with 14,686 votes mailed in, and 19,868 counted. And Oak Bay-Gordon Head is the third most, with 14,579 mailed in, more than the 14,358 votes already counted.

The question is if the mail-in and absentee ballots will reflect the same trend or change. (To be clear, a high majority of the remaining ballots to be counted this weekend are mail-in, said Elections BC director of communications Andrew Watson.)

Results will be updated throughout the weekend starting Friday. Don’t expect them to come in quick, Watson said, as the process is a cumbersome one.

“[Compared to election night] the numbers will take longer, there’s more steps in the process, dealing with removing the envelopes and secrecy sleeves,” Watson said.

Results will updated as they come in at results.elections.bc.ca.

READ MORE: Polls close in Oak Bay-Gordon Head

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In Victoria-Beacon Hill and Oak Bay-Gordon Head, where the total vote count will now double, it could be seen as starting over again. However, candidates who are trailing in those ridings are reserved as to whether anything will change.

BC Liberal candidate Roxanne Helme will exercise her right as a voter scrutineer for the Oak Bay-Gordon Head riding. Helme is currently third in voting with 3,400 votes, behind NDP candidate Murray Rankin, who holds 47.6 per cent of the vote with 6,834, and BC Green candidate Nicole Duncan’s 4,046 votes.

“I’ve been working, and presuming I’m not going to be going to the legislature, and that even though there are more ballots to come, I presume the trend will be consistent, but who knows,” Helme said.

Candidates and at least one representative can also be present at final count.

That said, if the trend for voting in Helme’s riding continues to favour the NDP or Green on Friday, she may pull the plug on being a scrutineer the rest of the weekend.

READ ALSO: Saanich Remembrance Day ceremony goes virtual

“It depends big time on what those ballots look like,” Helme said. “We’ll regroup after the count on Friday and see where we are at, deciding if we’ll go from there.”

In Victoria-Beacon Hill, BC Green party candidate Jenn Neilson’s 4,655 votes is second to NDP candidate Grace Lore, with 6,852 votes.

“I’m back at work full time as of this week acting as if the results won’t change, even though they could,” said Neilson, “because I would rather be pleasantly surprised than disappointed.”

With only 197 mail-in ballots requested in Victoria-Beacon Hill in 2017, it’s an unprecedented spike, Neilson said, though most agree it’s due to COVID safety.

“There is simply no way to know whether the proportion of votes for each party will be the same for mail-in ballots as for in-person votes until they have been counted,” Neilson said.

reporter@oakbaynews.com


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