B.C.'s absentee ballots likely to solidify a minority government: economist

While we wait for the absentee ballots to decide who wins this election, there is this sure thing: The Greens have three seats.

A UBC economist says there's only a 10 per cent chance that absentee ballots and recounts turn a minority legislature into a BC Liberal majority.

Following Tuesday's election, the Liberals have 43 seats, the NDP won 41 and the Greens took three.

Kevin Milligan found that the BC NDP enjoy an absentee ballot advantage in provincial elections - and this time, that advantage could see them gaining some seats, losing others, but still maintaining the same count they had on election night. But that can still change, and the final outcome might not be known until the second week of June, pending possible recounts. This allows enough time for certification envelopes containing ballots to be sent from the district where they were cast to the district where voters are registered, explained Andrew Watson, a spokesman for Elections BC. In 2013, there were 3,505 absentee ballots in this riding. On election night in 2009, the NDP's Charlie Wyse was declared the victor in Cariboo-Chilcotin, before the final count declared Liberal Donna Barnett the victor. But that was based on preliminary results that turned out to be incorrect.

Absentee ballots did not play a decisive role in the 2013 election. But the boundaries have changed since then and the riding no longer includes some NDP-leaning areas.

Following final count, judicial recounts can be requested for ridings where the difference between the top two is less 1/500 of the total ballots considered.

Preliminary results in Courtenay-Comox put the NDP's Ronna-Rae Leonard ahead of the Liberals' Jim Benninger by just nine votes.

"I'm not sure that we can really say that we have a victor tonight", Benninger said late Tuesday.

Most of the absentees in Courtenay-Comox are snowbirds vacationing in Palm Springs or Scottsdale or members of CFB Comox off on assignment outside the riding.

  • Leroy Wright