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The Canadian Press

The Green Party of Canada is on the verge of having a new leader.

The winner will be named in Ottawa Saturday night after what will be the biggest leadership contest the Greens have ever had.

Nearly 35,000 people are eligible to vote, almost 10 times the turnout from the last leadership election in 2006.

Fewer than 300 people chose to vote by mail, and those votes were counted Thursday at party headquarters.

Digital voting, which began Sept. 26, won’t close until 6:30 p.m. ET, half an hour before the first-round results are to be read.

There are eight candidates in the race and it is a ranked-ballot system, which could mean it will take up to seven rounds of results to declare a winner.

The leader will succeed Elizabeth May, who stepped down last fall after leading the party for 13 years.

May will remain a force in the party, as she is still one of its three MPs and as of now, intends to remain as parliamentary leader in the House of Commons.

None of the eight leadership hopefuls have a seat, though interim leader Jo-Ann Roberts said all eight have indicated an interest in seeking a seat in the next election.

Annamie Paul is the first to do that, after being acclaimed the Green candidate for the Toronto Centre by-election being held Oct. 26.

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