It’s going to feel like a long two weeks for both Surrey South and Surrey White Rock candidates who put their names forward in the provincial election.
While the voting-day results indicate BC Liberals Stephanie Cadieux (Surrey South) and Trevor Halford (Surrey-White Rock) will win their ridings, potentially thousands of mail-in ballots are yet to be counted.
At the end of election day Oct. 24, Cadieux finished with 7,945 votes, ahead of NDP Pauline Greaves who received 6,728 votes. A total of 16,303 people voted at a polling station in that riding. In Surrey-White Rock, Halford ended with 6,840 votes, while NDP Bryn Smith garnered 6,111 votes. A total of 16,903 people voted at polling stations in that riding.
Although a number of news networks have independently declared both Halford and Cadieux victorious, the race is far from over.
According to Elections BC, 11,206 people requested a vote-by-mail package in Surrey-White Rock and 12,703 requested them in Surrey South.
Elections BC has not clarified how many of those ballots were filled out and returned to the organization. Across the province, however, voters returned about 69 per cent of the 724,279 vote-by-mail packages requested.
If that statistic holds true locally, it equates to approximately 7,732 yet-to-be counted votes for Surrey-White Rock and 8,765 for Surrey South.
And for that reason, front-runner candidates and their runners-up were relatively quiet on election night, being careful not to declare victory or concede defeat.
In Surrey South, incumbent Cadieux said it’s not over until it’s over.
“People are calling it, but it’s not done yet,” Cadieux told PAN Sunday. “We have potentially 12,000 votes that haven’t been counted yet. I’m hopeful, but I am not certain. I think it’s important to wait until it’s all done before we announce the winner.”
She added that she won’t be commenting on the election results until all votes are accounted for.
“It’s not an easy thing for people to run for office and I respect everybody who does. And out of respect, let’s wait until the ballots are counted.”
Greaves’ campaign manager Tom Ewasiuk told PAN two days prior to the election that Greaves would be watching the returns from home with her family, and didn’t expect to make a statement on the election that evening.
First elected MLA for Surrey-Panorama in 2009, then Surrey-Cloverdale in 2013, Cadieux won the Surrey South seat in 2017 with 60 per cent of the votes.
While Halford told Peace Arch News that he was “absolutely thrilled” after being told The Canadian Press declared him the next MLA for the riding, he said he’s waiting for the results to be finalized out of respect for the other candidates.
After the pending votes are counted, if Halford is indeed elected the BC Liberal MLA for Surrey-White Rock, he would find himself sitting against a projected majority NDP government.
“I think it doesn’t matter whether or not you’re in government, or you’re in opposition,” Halford said. “You’ve got a duty to do the right thing not only for your constituents, but the province.”
Saturday, PAN phoned Surrey-White Rock NDP candidate Bryn Smith and asked for his reaction to the results and his message to people who’d entrusted him with their vote.
While Smith said he wanted to provide a comment, he declined, adding “I’m not supposed to talk to the press tonight, sorry.” Instead, Smith directed PAN to a tweet he made that evening.
“From the bottom of my heart – thank you. However this election shapes up over the next two weeks, it was my honour to seek to serve this community. The words of support and the dedication of my volunteers and friends will always stay with me,” Smith’s tweet read.
Editors note: This article has been updated to provide the correct number of mail-in ballots returned to Elections BC, which is approxiamtely 69 per cent.