It’s officially Election Day in B.C.’s 2020 provincial snap election and the polls have now closed, and preliminary winners have been named.
With 75 ballot boxes of 100 reporting in, the election in the Cowichan Valley riding is being called for encumbent Sonia Furstenau of the Greens who is leading with 4,257 votes, followed by Rob Douglas of the NDP by 3,536 votes, and Tanya Kaul of the Liberals with 1,585 votes.
The Nanaimo-North Cowichan riding is being called for incumbent Doug Routley. With 86 ballot boxes of 94 are reporting in, Routley of the NDP holds the lead with 4,575 votes, followed by Duck Paterson of the Liberals with 2,160 votes and Chris Istace with 3,574 votes for the Greens.
Sonia Furstenau feels she and her team have done the best they could in the short time they had to prepare for the snap provincial election.
On election night, shortly after the polls closed, the MLA for the Cowichan Valley and the head of the province’s Green Party was heading to the Delta Hotel in Victoria to wait for the results of the election with her provincial Green team.
Due to the high volume of mail-in ballots during the ongoing pandemic, the final election results may not be known for up to three weeks, but Furstenau said she’s optimistic that she’ll be re-elected in her riding, and the party will do well across the province.
“I just got off the phone with our many volunteers, and they are very positive and excited after the campaign,” Furstenau said Saturday night.
“Many people have been saying that they’ve never voted Green before, but they’ve decided to vote Green this time. We’re very optimistic.”
Furstenau said that despite Premier John Horgan’s cynical decision to call a snap election, she’s incredibly proud of what she and her team have accomplished during the 34-day campaign.
She said the party’s volunteers, the candidates across the province and the record-breaking donations have been incredible.
“Considering the fact that on day one of the election call, we had no candidates in place and then quickly managed to have Green candidates in 74 readings is truly extraordinary and it’s something I’m really proud of,” she said.
“There has been some preparation by the party in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, and that’s why we have such great candidates in place there. Others have stepped up in other ridings and we’re grateful for them.”
Furstenau said she spent the morning of election day in her headquarters in Shawnigan Lake before heading to the Farmers Market in Duncan where she talked to people in the streets and shop owners.
“We put a lot of energy in the campaign, and I feel we did a great job,” she said.
“Now we’ll just have to wait and see the results.”
The campaign for NDP candidate Rob Douglas was contacted but declined to comment on election night.
First called in September by B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan, BC Votes 2020 is likely going to be one for the history books, already seeing a number of records broken when it comes to voter turnout.
Roughly 681,000 people cast their ballots during the seven days of advanced voting that ended Wednesday, compared to 614,389 in 2017.
Meanwhile, 478,900 returned vote-by-mail packages had been received by Elections BC by Oct. 22, representing 66 per cent of the packages requested.
In Cowichan Valley 10,702 mail-in ballots were requested, which is 21.89 per cent of the total number of voters. In Nanaimo-North Cowichan 9,956 mail-in ballots were requested, which is an almost identical 21.72 per cent of the voters.
Close races will have to wait until mid-November for the winner to be declared, once mail-in ballots are counted by Elections BC officials after Nov. 6.
We’ll be keeping you up-to-date on all of the latest election news from the Nanaimo-North Cowichan and Cowichan Valley ridings, so stay tuned for updates.