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NDP Leader John Horgan leaves the stage after addressing supporters in Vancouver, B.C., in the early morning hours of Wednesday May 10, 2017. The NDP are requesting recounts in three close ridings after the election.

DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The BC NDP has asked for recounts in three Vancouver area ridings it narrowly lost to the Liberals in an an extraordinary election result that has increased the stakes in such close races.

The New Democrats want recounts in Richmond-Queensborough, where they lost by 263 votes; Coquitlam-Burke Mountain, where they lost by 268 votes; and Vancouver-False Creek, where they lost by 560 votes.

This week's provincial election gave the Liberals 43 seats, one shy of a majority government, the New Democrats 41, and left the Greens holding the balance of power with three. But those standings could change with recounts and after absentee ballots are tallied between May 22 and 24.

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The BC Liberals have already asked for a recount in the closest race, Courtenay-Comox on Vancouver Island, which they lost to the New Democrats by just nine votes.

The New Democrats are not saying why they want recounts in these ridings. Under the law, candidates may ask for a recount if they lose by fewer than 100 votes, which does not apply, or if they believe ballots were handled incorrectly.

Glen Sanford, deputy director of the BC NDP, noted that the deadline to ask for a recount of the election day results was Friday.

"We just wanted to make sure that every vote is counted so that the voters can have full confidence that the results are completely accurate," Mr. Sanford said.

Aside from the 100-vote threshold, there are several other grounds to ask for a recount:

  • Votes were not correctly accepted or ballots not correctly rejected;
  • Unopened or resealed secrecy envelopes contain ballots that should be considered;
  • A ballot account does not accurately record the number of votes for a candidate;
  • The final count did not accurately calculate the number of votes for a candidate.

Mr. Sanford declined to provide specifics about which rule the BC NDP thinks was broken in each riding.

But he did say that in Vancouver-False Creek, elections officials notified the NDP that there was a problem with one of the advance polling boxes. Elections BC did not respond to a request to confirm that information.

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Mr. Sanford also said that at least one of the ballot boxes in Coquitlam-Burke Mountain had to be recounted. On election night, Elections BC said the NDP won by 170 votes, but that margin was revised on Friday to 268. Elections BC did not elaborate on what happened.

Andrew Watson, manager of communications for Elections BC, declined to comment until after the deadline to request a recount, which was Friday at midnight.

Once the 176,000 absentee ballots are added to the election-day totals, parties may request a judicial recount because of problems with the vote. As well, a judicial recount is mandatory for any riding where the margin of victory is 0.02 per cent of the total ballots cast, which in most districts amounts to a few dozen votes.

Columnist Gary Mason says British Columbia is now a divided province, with the Liberals finding support in the interior and north, while the NDP dominates in Metro Vancouver. But the latter region is growing while the interior remains stagnant, leaving a question over the Liberals' future election prospects.
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