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Conservative leadership race results delayed after machines rip thousands of ballots

Click to play video 'Erin O’Toole elected leader of Conservative Party of Canada' Erin O’Toole elected leader of Conservative Party of Canada
WATCH ABOVE: Erin O'Toole elected leader of Conservative Party of Canada

The results of the Conservative leadership race were repeatedly delayed Sunday night after technical issues with some of the machines used in the ballot counting process.

It marked the latest challenge to a leadership race already forced to adjust course in light of the new restrictions and realities imposed by the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

READ MORE: Conservative leadership bid: 5 things to know about the race

Conservative officials say thousands of ballots were damaged by machines used to open the envelopes containing the ballots.

In total, roughly 175,000 party members cast ballots.

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Party members have for weeks been mailing in their ranked ballots for who they want to replace Andrew Scheer as the next leader of the Conservative Party and the campaigns were forced to pivot from the normal course of in-person outreach and fundraising to digital activities.

The hybrid convention format was originally scheduled to get underway at 6 p.m. ET with first ballot results around 7:10 p.m. and possibly second ballot results at 7:35 p.m. before a victory speech at 8 p.m.

ANALYSIS: End of Andrew Scheer era means shift eastward for Conservative power

That 6 p.m. start was initially delayed by 90 minutes to 7:30 p.m. but has yet to get underway.

It now appears the program could begin around 8:30 p.m. with a break at 9 p.m., and first ballot results possibly available around 10 p.m.

However, that timeline came and went.

Click to play video 'End of Andrew Scheer era marks eastward shift for Conservatives' End of Andrew Scheer era marks eastward shift for Conservatives
End of Andrew Scheer era marks eastward shift for Conservatives

At this point, there is no clear timeline from party officials on when to expect results.

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Four candidates are vying to replace Scheer as party leader: former Nova Scotia MP Peter MacKay, current Toronto-area MP Erin O’Toole, Toronto lawyer Leslyn Lewis and first-term MP Derek Sloan.

With files from Global’s Abigail Bimman.