Premier Christy Clark greets Lt. Governor Judith Guichon for the reading of the government’s throne speech, 2013. Guichon will have a pivotal role if the final vote count leaves a minority parliament in B.C.

Final vote count begins for B.C. election

Absentee ballots, recounts begin today in 87 constituencies

Monday is no holiday for Elections B.C. officials, as they begin a three-day final count that will determine the shape of the next provincial government.

Final counts usually get little attention, but this time results are so close provincially and in some of B.C.’s 87 constituencies that even small shifts could produce a majority or minority government. Elections B.C. will begin updating its totals from each constituency on Monday, with the final count to be declared by Wednesday.

There are 179,380 absentee ballots not counted on election night May 9, including a record number from people who voted in advance and those who mailed in ballots from outside their home constituencies. Ballots collected by Elections B.C. mobile teams, in hospitals, remote work camps and one that went door-to-door in an area isolated by a landslide in the Shuswap, are also not included in election night vote counts.

If there are no changes to winners, the election night total will stand at 43 seats for the B.C. Liberals, 41 for the B.C. NDP, and three seats for the B.C. Greens, who could then choose which party to support in a minority government. A one-seat gain for the B.C. Liberals would give them a majority.

In the event of a minority, Premier Christy Clark would be expected to ask Lt. Governor Judith Guichon for official permission to carry on governing. The minority government would fall if it loses a confidence vote on its budget, which was introduced and not passed before the election.

Official recounts are taking place in Courtenay-Comox, with a nine-vote lead for the NDP candidate after preliminary counting May 9, and Vancouver-False Creek where an error was recorded on a polling station voting envelope. Results could change in other contests that were not close enough to trigger an automatic recount under the B.C. Elections Act.

Other seats to watch include Maple Ridge-Mission, where NDP candidate Bob D’Eith finished 120 votes ahead of B.C. Liberal incumbent Marc Dalton, and Coquitlam-Burke Mountain, where B.C. Liberal challenger Joan Isaacs finished 268 votes ahead of NDP incumbent Jodie Wickens.