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Final ballot counting is underway in the B.C. election. Here are some ridings to watch

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, voters have cast their ballot a little differently this year and an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots have been requested and received. Global News

It has been 13 days since the provincial election and Elections BC has now started counting absentee and mail-in ballots.

There are about 664,000 ballots that will be counted, with the expectation the counting will start on Friday and end on Sunday.

The BC Elections Act requires a 13-day waiting period to ensure all ballots can be returned to their proper constituency and elections officials can check to see that no one voted both in person and by mail.

The outcome of the 2020 Election will not change, with the BC NDP set to form a majority government. But the current seat count of 55 NDP MLAs, 29 Liberal MLAs and three Green MLAs could change.

Here are some of the ridings where the change would take place:

Abbotsford-Mission

The riding is one of the closest in the province, with Liberal incumbent Simon Gibson leading with 7,075 votes over NDP candidate Pam Alexis, who has 6,887 votes. There are 7,385 absentee and mail-in votes set to be counted starting Friday.

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The BC Liberals have won Abbotsford-Mission with more than 50 per cent of the vote in every election since it was created in 2009.

Alexis was elected as mayor of Mission in 2018 and has taken a leave of absence from her post to run in the provincial election.

Vernon-Monashee

In what may be the greatest surprise of election night in the Okanagan, a three-term Liberal MLA is hanging on to his seat by a thread.

Eric Foster is leading in Vernon-Monashee by a mere 183 votes, or less than one per cent, over NDP challenger Harwinder Sandhu.

Foster has received 6,801 votes compared to 6,618 votes for Sandhu. There are 8,581 votes left to be counted in the riding from absentee and mail-in ballots.

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Vernon-Monashee has a long history of voting for centre-right parties.

The BC Liberals have held the riding since 1996. It was created for the 1991 election when it sent a Social Credit MLA to Victoria.

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Chilliwack-Kent

Early votes may be what saves Laurie Throness’ job.

The incumbent was forced to resign from the BC Liberal Party during the election campaign over comments he made at an all-candidates debate comparing the NDP’s free birth control plan to eugenics.

Throness appeared on the ballot as the Liberal candidate for Chilliwack-Kent and received 5,005 votes. NDP candidate Kelli Paddon currently leads by 195 votes, tallying 5,200 votes on election night.

There are 7,325 votes left to be counted.

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The riding has long been a stronghold for the BC Liberals.

Chilliwack city councillor Jason Lum ran as an independent and is sitting in third, with 3,849 votes.

Vancouver-Langara

BC Liberal candidate Michael Lee is hoping to hold on to the seat of Vancouver-Langara,

Before the mail-in and absentee ballots have been counted, Lee received 5,356 votes, leading NDP candidate Tesicca Truong by 643 votes. There are still 9,203 votes to be counted.

If she were to win, Truong would become one the youngest members of the NDP caucus.

Lee won in 2017 by fewer than 2,000 votes, and wasn’t tapped for then-premier Christy Clark’s short-lived cabinet.

Read more: The BC Liberals are looking for a new leader. Here are some possibilities

Richmond South Centre

Mail-in and absentee ballots are set to determine the next MLA for Richmond South Centre.

The riding was the closest race on election night with two candidates separated by just 124 votes.

NDP candidate Henry Yao received 4,137 votes compared to 4,013 votes for BC Liberal Alexa Loo. There are still 5,280 votes left to be counted.

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Loo was quick to respond on election night to the Liberals’ poor result, suggesting the party needed a change of leadership. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson has since announced plans to step down, but there is no timeline on when he will vacate the job.

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West Vancouver-Sea to Sky

The BC Greens are poised to pick up the party’s first seat outside of Vancouver Island.

With the mail-in and absentee ballots still left to be counted, Green candidate Jeremy Valeriote is leading BC Liberal incumbent Jordan Sturdy by 604 votes.

Valeriote has received 7,019 votes, compared to 6,415 votes for Jordan Sturdy.

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There are 6,958 votes left to be counted.

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West Vancouver-Sea to Sky is a riding the BC Greens covet, but the BC Liberals have just kept on winning.

It spans one of the province’s most magnificent drives from West Vancouver, through Squamish, past Whistler and into Pemberton. With the mix of urban and rural residents, ski bums, retirees and those looking for a break from the city, the riding offers up a wide mix of voters.

Surrey-White Rock

The BC Liberals are confident they will hold on to a riding they traditionally dominate. But there is still a chance the BC NDP could pull off a major upset in Surrey-White Rock.

Liberal candidate Trevor Halford has so far received 6,840 votes, compared to 6,111 votes for the NDP’s Bryn Smith. There are still 9,895 votes to be counted.

Earlier this year, Liberal Tracy Redies stepped down as Surrey-White Rock MLA to become CEO of Science World.

Read more: BC Liberal MLA stepping down to become next Science World CEO

The BC Liberals have represented the riding since it was created in 2001, first by Wilf Hurd, then Gordie Hogg, and finally Redies, who won in 2017 by just under 5,500 votes.

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Liberal candidate Halford, ran unsuccessfully for a seat on Surrey city council in 2018.

Parksville-Qualicum

The BC New Democrats are optimistic they have wiped the BC Liberals off the electoral map on Vancouver Island.

But there are still 13,306 mail-in and absentee ballots left to be counted in Parksville-Qualicum.

Of the ballots already counted, NDP candidate Adam Walker has received 7,309 votes compared to 6,365 for Liberal incumbent Michelle Stilwell.

Since 2013, Parksville-Qualicum has been the only riding held by the BC Liberals.

The demographics of the riding skew older and the riding has been represented by the Liberals since 1995.

Incumbent Stilwell is one of the best-known members of the BC Liberal Party as she is the only Canadian female to have won Paralympic gold medals in two separate summer sports.

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Richmond-Steveston

The BC NDP is optimistic it is going to win Richmond-Steveston, even with 8,099 votes left to be counted.

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Richmond city councillor Kelly Greene received 6,468 votes, leading BC Liberal candidate Matt Pitcairn by 600 votes.

Greene lost in the 2017 election to longtime Liberal MLA John Yap, who announced the day the 2020 election kicked off that he was not running again.

Surrey-Panorama

The BC NDP is expected to hold on to Surrey-Panorama.

With 7,202 mail-in ballots left to be counted, NDP incumbent Jinny Sims is leading by 1,312 votes.

Before the mail-in and absentee ballots were counted Sims has received 7,967 votes compared to 6,655 votes for Gulzar Cheema.

Surrey-Panorama is one of the rare ridings that has seen three different MLAs over the last three elections.

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Vancouver-False Creek

The BC NDP is poised to flip one of the key swing ridings of the 2020 provincial election.

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Of the ballots counted, NDP candidate Brenda Bailey has received 5,285 votes compared to the 4,503 votes for BC Liberal incumbent Sam Sullivan.

There are more than 12,123 votes left to be counted from mail-in and absentee ballots.

Langley East

The New Democrats appear to be on the verge of breaking through in what has long been one of the BC Liberals’ safest ridings.

A combination of Liberal flubs, changing demographics and strong support for the Conservatives has given NDP candidate Megan Dykeman the lead in Langley East with the mail-in and absentee votes left to be counted.

Of the votes already counted Dykeman has received 7,944 votes compared to 7,145 votes for BC Liberal candidate Margaret Kunst.

Conservative candidate Ryan Warawa has tallied 2,643 votes.

There are 10,637 votes left to be counted.

Fraser Nicola

The BC Liberals are optimistic they will hold on to the riding of Fraser Nicola.

There are just 2,433 mail-in and absentee ballots left to be counted starting on November 7.

Two-term BC Liberal Party incumbent Jackie Tegart received 4,704 votes compared to 4,319 votes for NDP candidate Aaron Sumexheltza.

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