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BC VOTES 2020: Vernon-Monashee race tightens as mail-in vote count begins

164 votes separate BC Liberals Eric Foster over NDP’s Harwinder Sandhu as of 2:30 p.m. today
NDP candidate Harwinder Sandhu, right, and incumbent Liberal Eric Foster went head-to-head in a tight race for the Vernon-Monashee seat in the Legislature. By the night’s end Oct. 24, the results were too close to call and the final count will be dependant on outstanding mail-in ballots. (Contributed)

As mail-in votes from the provincial election begin to come in, the already tight Vernon-Monashee race is only getting tighter.

Elections BC began its final count of mail-in and absentee ballots today. The final count is expected to take at least three days.

Vernon-Monashee was one of the closest races in the province following Election Day, with BC Liberal incumbent Eric Foster and NDP candidate Harwinder Sandhu separated by just 185 votes.

Elections BC is providing updates while the final count is in progress.

As of 2:30 p.m. Friday, Foster’s marginal lead had shrunk to 164 votes.

Speaking by phone from the Vernon Jubilee Hospital, Sandhu said work has been a welcome distraction from watching the numbers.

“When you’re doing your tasks at the hospital your focus is shifted towards the job you’re doing … it’s one less day of me thinking about the results,” she said.

It’s unclear how many mail-in votes remain to be counted. Sandhu hopes to have a better idea of which way those votes are leaning by the end of the day.

“It’s still a very preliminary stage,” said Sandhu, who’s challenging Foster’s bid for a fourth term as Vernon-Monashee’s MLA.

Foster could not be reached prior to this story’s publication.

An estimated 497,000 mail-in ballots were returned by the Oct. 24 deadline in this year’s election — breaking B.C. records.

Vernon-Monashee received 8,606 certification envelopes containing absentee or mail-in ballots as of Thursday, Nov. 5, according to an Elections BC progress report.

Following the final count, recounts will be conducted if the preliminary count is within 100 votes of a tie between two candidates. Candidates will have six days to request a judicial recount, according to Elections BC.

The current vote count as of 2:30 p.m. is:

Kyle Delfing, BC Conservatives — 2,990 14.59%

Eric Foster, BC Liberal Party — 7,163 34.95%

Harwinder Sandhu, BC NDP — 6,999 34.15%

Keli Westgate BC Green Party — 3,341 16.30%

READ MORE: Mail-in ballots could shift outcomes in tight B.C. election contests

READ MORE: B.C. begins counting mail-in ballots, will take at least 3 days

Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started at the Morning Star as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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