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Nelson-Creston candidates wait for mail-in ballots to be counted

BC NDP candidate Brittny Anderson (far left) made be leading by more than 900 votes, but nothing has been decided just yet as mail-in ballots must be counted before the official decision is made in Nelson-Creston riding. From left, BC Libertarian Terry Tiessen, Nicole Charlwood of Green Party and BC Liberal candidate Tanya Finley.

The lead may be more than 900 votes, but that doesn’t mean BC NDP candidate Brittny Anderson is doing the Irish jig following results from Saturday’s 2020 Provincial Election.

The rookie provincial candidate and Nelson City Councilor will wait, like many other British Columbians, for Elections BC to tabulate mail-in ballots before doing any victory dance in the riding of Nelson-Creston.

“I am so grateful for all the support I received during this campaign,” Anderson said after picking up almost 40 per cent of the popular vote in the Nelson-Creston race.

“From my campaign team, to volunteers, donors, people who took a sign and my family — I am so thankful for all of them.”

“(But) I am looking forward to seeing the results of the final count including all of the mail in ballots,” Anderson added.

“I am optimistic and hopeful but it is really important that we wait to see the final results . . .. Each vote counts.”

Those words were echoed by Nicole Charlwood of the Green Party, who is currently sits in second behind Anderson with 4,443 votes (32.94 per cent).

“We Greens want all votes counted and so we will wait until the mail-in and special ballots are counted before making an announcement,” said Charlwood.

Charlwood and Anderson were joined on the campaign by Tanya Finley of the BC Liberal Party and Terry Tiessen of the BC Libertarian Party as candidates to replace incumbent MLA Michelle Mungall after Premier John Horgan surprised many by calling the snap election.

The night started with the Greens Charlwood taking the early lead, resulting in the first numbers coming across television tickers showing the BC Green Party with six seats and early favorites, BC NDP trailing the BC Liberals.

As the night progressed the tables turned into the favour of Anderson and the BC NDP.

However, even after major networks confirmed an BC NDP provincial win, the numbers in Nelson-Creston had Anderson leading Charlwood by only a slim margin.

“I knew from the beginning that it was important to keep the bigger picture in mind,” Anderson said when asked about the Greens early lead in Nelson-Creston.

“Every vote counts.”

After most ballot boxes in Nelson-Creston were counted, Anderson increased the lead to 700, before ending the night with a leading margin of 934 votes (5,377) and 39.86 per cent to 32.94 for Charlwood.

BC Liberal candidate Finley is third at 24.72 per cent with Tiessen fourth at 2.48 per cent.

“I'm proud of the campaign we ran,” said Tanya Finley’s BC Liberal Party Nelson-Creston campaign manager Stephen Harris said on Facebook.

“In a riding that nobody expected we would win, Tanya still got thousands and thousands of people to cast a ballot for her.

“That in itself is something to be proud of, and there's still a lot to be counted, too.”

This election, held during a pandemic, looked a lot different than the regular door-knocking, packed all-candidate forums, hand-shaking on main street campaigns.

Physical distancing was the new norm with candidate holding in-person visits throughout the riding or speaking to the electorate through online events.

“Democracy only works when good people put their names forward and take the huge risk and challenge of running,” said Harris, pleased that all parties ran respectful, clean campaigns in Nelson-Creston.

“And despite differences in policy or platform, we're lucky to have genuinely good, caring people running on what they think is best.”

“What more could one ask for,” added Harris.

Charlwood agreed with Harris, congratulating each candidate on running clean campaigns.

“Personally, and on behalf of our campaign crew, I congratulate Tanya Finley and Terry Tiessen for their campaigs of integrity and passion,” Charlwood said.

“I congratulate Brittny Anderson on her provincial win.”

After four weeks of campaigning, the wait begins as Elections BC deals with a little unfinished business — counting the mail-in ballots.

Elections BC said vote-by-mail packages are sent from each riding to a central location and cannot be counted for at least 13 days following Saturday’s election to allow ballots to be sent back to the specific riding for sorting and screening.

Elections BC said approximately 478,000 vote-by-mail packages had been returned, representing approximately 66 per cent of all mail-in packages requested  and issued to date.

“Over the next two weeks I am going to be spending some time with family but also thanking my supporters,” Anderson said when asked about the wait.

“I have a few hundred thank you cards to write. I’m also looking forward to a night at Ainsworth Hot Springs with my partner — a COVID staycation.”

Around the Kootenays, BC NDP incumbent Katrine Conroy make quick of the Kootenay West race, capturing 8,234 votes for 59.29 per cent of the ballots counted. In the East Kootenay, incumbent Tom Shypitka of the BC Liberals retained his seat (8,270 votes, 59.71 per cent) over former Kootenay Columbia MP Wayne Stetski (4,170 30.11 per cent).

Monday, Elections BC announced that it estimates at least 52.4% of registered voters voted in the 2020 Provincial General Election.