Who will be Ontario’s next premier? Voters head to the polls after wild election campaign

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WATCH LIVE: Global News special coverage of the 2018 Ontario election

UPDATE: 9:24 P.M. – Global News is projecting Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives will win a majority government. 

The 2018 Ontario election is coming to a close as voters in the province will elect a new government after a tumultuous campaign between Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives, Andrea Horwath’s NDP, and Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals.

Polls closed at 9 p.m. ET, with results expected to pour in shortly after. At least seven polling stations will remain open past originally scheduled closing times due to delays at the booths, according to Elections Ontario.

WATCH: Highlights from the Ontario election
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Across all platforms, Global News is providing comprehensive coverage of the Ontario election on June 7. Find out how to watch, listen and read on

READ MORE: Ontario election results 2018: Live, real-time riding vote map

READ MORE: Ontario election – find your riding

The hotly contested race is expected to come down to either Ford’s PCs or Horwath’s NDP as Ontario appears ready for a significant change in government following the Liberals’ 15 years in power.

Wynne last weekend conceded she won’t be Ontario’s premier after Thursday’s election. The Liberal leader’s stunning admission, seen as a move to salvage at least a few seats for her party, came with an appeal to voters to prevent either of her NDP or Progressive Conservative rivals from achieving a majority.

Heading into Thursday’s vote, the latest polls and projections have predicted that the PCs could be set for a majority government, while Wynne’s Liberals could be reduced to less than eight seats and lose official party status. There are 124 ridings being contested this year, up from 107 in 2014, meaning 63 seats are required for a majority.

The three main party leaders were out voting Thursday in their ridings.

“Feeling really great. It’s a beautiful day to change Ontario,” Ford said on his way to cast his ballot in his Etobicoke riding. “I never take anything for granted. I’m going to continue working hard right up until the last minute.”

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WATCH: Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford comes to vote in 2018 Ontario election

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Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford comes to vote in 2018 Ontario election – Jun 7, 2018

Wynne, who is in a battle to win her Toronto seat in Don Valley West, cast her ballot with partner Jane Rounthwaite.

Wynne made history in 2013, when she became the first openly LGBT premier in Canada and first woman premier of Ontario after replacing Dalton McGuinty as leader of the Ontario Liberal Party. She won a majority government in the 2014 election.

“Jane and I marked our ballots in Don Valley West this morning. I am very committed to continuing to serve as your MPP,” read a tweet from her account.

Meanwhile, Horwath thanked all NDP volunteers and candidates who worked on campaigns across the province and said this election was about change.

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“I’m energized,” Horwath told reporters. “Today of course is the day where we bring it all home. And I’m really excited.”

“I’m running to premier of this province. I’m not interested in playing footsies with the other parties.”

WATCH: Horwath speaks with reporters just hours before polls close

Click to play video: '‘It’s exciting’: NDP leader Andrea Horwath says she still feels the excitement on election day' ‘It’s exciting’: NDP leader Andrea Horwath says she still feels the excitement on election day
‘It’s exciting’: NDP leader Andrea Horwath says she still feels the excitement on election day – Jun 7, 2018

Green Party leader Mike Schreiner could also be in for a historic night and become the first Green elected in Ontario.

The four-week campaign, has seen a number of dramatic swings and controversies as the party leaders travelled across the province appealing to voters.

The NDP began the campaign firmly in the third spot, but surged in the public opinion polls as Ford’s campaign stumbled. Ontario hasn’t elected an NDP government since former leader Bob Rae secured a surprise victory in 1990.

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READ MORE: Ontario election 2018 cheat sheet: A last minute voter’s guide

While there have been no shortage of controversies throughout the campaign, just days before the election, it revealed that the widow of Ford’s brother, former Toronto mayor Rob Ford, was suing the PC leader for more than $16 million.

The suit claims Ford mishandled the estate of his late brother, causing her and her children financial harm. Her suit also alleges Ford has mismanaged the family business, Deco Labels, destroying the value of the company. Ford has denied the allegations and vowed to fight them in court.

As the results roll in Thursday night, there will be several crucial ridings to watch. Global has compiled a list of the seven most important ridings that could determine a majority or minority government for each party.

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