(from l) Fraser-Nicola candidates Jonah Timms (BC Green Party), Jackie Tegart (BC Liberal Party), and Aaron Sumexheltza (BC NDP). The polls have now closed and the counting has started. (Photo credit: Submitted)

(from l) Fraser-Nicola candidates Jonah Timms (BC Green Party), Jackie Tegart (BC Liberal Party), and Aaron Sumexheltza (BC NDP). The polls have now closed and the counting has started. (Photo credit: Submitted)

Results awaited in Fraser-Nicola as polls have now closed

Counting of advance and election day votes has begun; mail-in votes to be counted starting Nov. 6

UPDATE 11:25 p.m.: 11,113 votes counted (92 of 94 ballot boxes reported)

Dennis Adamson Independent 381 votes 3.43%

Mike Bhangu Independent 292 votes 2.63%

Aaron Sumexheltza BC NDP 4,318 votes 38.86%

Jackie Tegart BC Liberal Party 4,703 votes 42.32%

Jonah Timms BC Green Party 1,419 votes 12.77%

UPDATE 8:40 p.m.: Fraser-Nicola is recognized as one of the swing ridings in this election: one that could go to either the BC Liberals or the BC NDP. One leading pollster has the riding “leaning NDP” after having gone Liberal in the last two elections, but the margin of error (MOE) leaves room for either party to emerge victorious.

The riding was created in 2009, when it was won by NDP candidate Harry Lali. In the 2013 election the riding switched to the Liberals, when first-time provincial candidate Jackie Tegart defeated Lali (by 614 votes). It was a feat she would repeat in 2017, once again defeating Lali (this time by 524 votes).

However, that 2017 margin of victory was one of the six lowest in the province. This year, pollster 338Canada is showing that, as of Oct. 23, the NDP are ahead in the riding at 46.3 per cent (with a MOE of +/- 8.3 per cent). The Liberals are at 38.5 percent, with a MOE of +/- eight per cent. The Greens are at 13.1 percent, with a +/- of 5.1 per cent.

Province-wide, 338Canada is predicting (as of Oct. 23) that the NDP will wind up with 59 seats, the Liberals will get 27, and the Greens will get one. A minimum of 44 seats are needed for one party to form a majority government.

When the Legislative Assembly was dissolved on Sept. 21, 2020, the NDP and Liberals each had 41 seats. There were two Green seats, two seats held by Independents, and one vacant seat.

***

The polls have now closed across B.C., and voting has ended in the 2020 provincial election. The initial count — which will include all advance votes cast at polling stations across the province between Oct. 15 and 21, as well as all votes cast by voters in their home riding on Oct. 24 — are now underway.

Province-wide, a total of 681,055 voters took advantage of advance voting; 19.53 per cent of the 3,485,858 eligible voters in B.C. In Fraser-Nicola, 6,344 people placed their votes in advance; 23.9 per cent of the 26,500 registered voters in the riding.

This election promises to be like no other, largely because of the huge number of mail-in ballots that were requested. In the 2017 provincial election, only 6,500 mail-in votes were received. This year, because of fears around COVID-19, more British Columbians decided to vote by mail-in ballot than ever before. A total of 724,279 mail-in ballots were requested from Elections BC, with 2,509 of those requests coming from Fraser-Nicola voters.

Across B.C., a total of 497,900 mail-in ballots were returned to Elections BC as of Friday, Oct. 23, representing approximately 69 per cent of packages requested. This does not include packages received by Canada Post that are currently in transit to Elections BC, or packages that were dropped off at a district electoral office or voting place.

As voters have until Oct. 24 to drop off their package, and do not need to return their package to their electoral district of residence, accurate estimates of package returns by electoral district are not yet available.

The counting of these mail-in ballots will not begin until Nov. 6, and Elections BC says that the count could take several days. It means that final results in many ridings may not be determined until more than two weeks after the election date.

Five candidates are vying for the nomination in Fraser-Nicola. Incumbent Jackie Tegart of the BC Liberal Party is making a bid for her third consecutive term, having won the riding during her first run at provincial politics in 2013, and retained it in 2017. Both times her nearest competitor was NDP candidate Harry Lali, whom Tegart defeated by 614 votes (6,597 to 6,073) in 2013, and by 524 votes (6,002 to 5,388) in 2017.

In this election, the BC NDPs are represented by Aaron Sumexheltza. A first-time provincial candidate, Sumexheltza challenged Lali for the NDP nomination in the riding in 2016 (at which time he was using the surname Sam). Lali was asked by NDP leader John Horgan to step aside in favour of Sumexheltza, but declined, and won the nomination before going on to defeat at the polls.

READ MORE: Harry Lali not preferred NDP candidate in Fraser-Nicola

This year, Sumexheltza won the nomination by acclamation; a decision that caused the entire Fraser-Nicola NDP riding association executive to resign in protest.

READ MORE: Controversy in Fraser-Nicola riding as NDP names their candidate

One of those executive members — former vice president Dennis Adamson — is running as an Independent candidate in Fraser-Nicola. Adamson has local government experience, having been an Electoral Area director for the Fraser Valley Regional District since 2008. Another person with local government experience running as an Independent in the riding is Mike Bhangu, a first-term councillor for the City of Merritt.

The BC Green Party is represented by Jonah Timms, and the first-time provincial candidate will be hoping to continue the gains made by the Greens in the riding. In 2009, the party received 6.53 per cent of the votes cast in Fraser-Nicola, a total which rose to 9.66 per cent in 2013 and 15.96 per cent (2,519 votes) in 2017.



editorial@accjournal.ca

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