NDP candidate Ronna-Rae Leonard celebrates an apparent slim victory on election night May 9 in Courtenay-Comox. (Comox Valley Record)

NDP extends lead as vote tally continues in Courtenay-Comox

Ronna-Rae Leonard builds lead to 148 votes with 500 more to go

By noon on the final day of counting absentee ballots in Courtenay-Comox, NDP candidate Ronna Rae Leonard has a 148-vote lead with about 500 ballots still to count Wednesday in the crucial swing seat of the 2017 B.C. election.

Leonard finished the election-night count with a nine-vote lead over B.C. Liberal candidate Jim Benninger, with more than 2,000 absentee ballots being tallied to get to the final count. Final results are expected today, with a judicial recount that may be requested by the losing candidate.

If there are no changes to winners, the election night total will stand at 43 seats for the B.C. Liberals, 41 for the B.C. NDP, and three seats for the B.C. Greens, who could then choose which party to support in a minority legislature. A one-seat gain for the B.C. Liberals would give them a majority.

There were 179,380 absentee ballots not counted on election night May 9, including those who mailed in ballots from outside their home constituencies. Ballots collected by Elections B.C. mobile teams, in hospitals, remote work camps and one that went door-to-door in an area isolated by a landslide in the Shuswap, are also not included in election night vote counts.

In the event of a minority, Premier Christy Clark would be expected to ask Lt. Governor Judith Guichon for official permission to carry on governing. The minority government would fall if it loses a confidence vote on its budget, which was introduced and not passed before the election.