This story has been updated with most recent vote count from Elections BC on October 25, 2020, 1:58 a.m.
The BC Election race turned into a sprint as an NDP majority government was declared elected barely 90 minutes after the polling stations closed across the province Saturday night.
With the results paralleling numerous advance polls — which heavily favoured the BC NDP over the BC Liberals — the NDP made good on their strategy and promise and were unofficially declared the province’s next government within 60 minutes of the closing of voting at 8 p.m.
With the win, John Horgan becomes the only two-term premier in NDP history in B.C., continuing to shut out the Liberals who held power for 16 years — four consecutive terms — prior to the NDP’s first win.
Closer to home in the Nelson-Creston riding the race was not so quick and decisive. In fact, the “lead” changed hands several times early after polls closed between BC Green Party candidate Nicole Charlwood and the BC NDP’s Brittny Anderson, with Anderson edging ahead as the evening wore on.
By the time 66 of the 77 ballot boxes reported — at 1:58 a.m. Sunday. — Anderson held an advantage of 934 votes, 5,337 (39.86 per cent) to 4,443 (32.94 per cent) out of a total of 13,490 ballots counted at that point.
BC Liberal candidate Tanya Finley garnered 3,335 votes at that point (24.72 per cent), while Terry Tiessen of the Libertarian party had 335 votes (2.48 per cent).
With Anderson holding a six per cent lead over Charlwood it appears mail-in ballots will be a formality to determine the final numbers in Nelson-Creston seat.
Brittnay Anderson of the BC NDP held a 900-plus vote lead over Nicole Charlwood of the Green Party late Saturday in the Nelson-Creston race.
Even with the declaration of government majority on Saturday night, it was with an asterisk since it could still take some time to determine the make-up of the provincial legislature due to the large amount of mail-in votes cast.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic the province’s voters embraced voting by mail with a 7,200-per-cent increase, as well as a significant increase in advance voting.
The election had just under 3.49 million people registered to vote, and as of Friday morning more than one million people had already cast their votes.
Of the votes cast before election day, vote-by-mail packages received by Elections BC totalled 478,900, and an additional 681,055 were part of advance voting. That was a total of 1.16 million votes, well over half of the total voter turnout in 2017.
What this means is a significant number of votes won’t be counted and factored in for nearly two weeks (13 days), so in closely contested ridings such as Nelson-Creston the final word on who represents the riding in Victoria will likely come in November.
In nearby ridings the NDP advanced their case with Roly Russell in the Boundary-Similkameen, as the former Regional District of Kootenay Boundary took the reins — with 92 of 98 ballot boxes reporting — at 48.04 per cent of the votes, over 1,750 votes than BC Liberal candidate Petra Veintimilla.
In the Kootenay East former NDP MP Wayne Stetski fell behind to BC Liberal candidate Tom Shypitka by nearly twice the amount of votes — 4,170 to 8,270 — with all 86 ballots reporting.
By the early hours of Sunday morning, only 67 of the 87 ballot boxes were counted in the Kootenay West race — which included the Slocan Valley — with incumbent Katrine Conroy leading at 57.54 per cent of the vote over the nearest challenger Andrew Duncan of the BC Green Party at 18.74 per cent.
The effect of the pandemic was felt early and often throughout the race locally and across the province, particularly in the traditional campaign arenas of door-knocking and political debates.
With those traditional means discarded in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, candidates turned to public sign waving sessions and virtual town halls.
Regional District of Kootenay Boundary Director Roly Russell appears to be on his way to Victoria as the MLA for Boundary-Similkameen.