Saanich South NDP candidate Lana Popham distributed flyers in Royal Oak on Oct. 21. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Saanich South NDP candidate Lana Popham distributed flyers in Royal Oak on Oct. 21. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

NDP’s Lana Popham reclaims Saanich South riding

Liberal candidate won’t concede ‘out of respect for those who voted by mail’

Lana Popham of the NDP was re-elected as MLA in Saanich South according to preliminary results Oct. 24. As of 11:30 p.m., Popham had received 7,641 out of 14,684 counted votes (52.04 per cent) with results from 90 of 92 polls reporting.

Rishi Sharma of the BC Liberal Party, with 3,667 votes, held a slim lead over Kate O’Connor of the Green Party (3,376) in second spot.

“I did have a lot of great conversations about the confidence people had in how the government was handling the pandemic,” Popham said just before midnight Saturday. “I really think that had a lot to do with the result the party had tonight.”

While she won’t accept the results as final until the mail-in ballots are counted by hand after Nov. 6, Popham said the preliminary results stemmed from her trying hard to connect with voters on issues of local importance. Those included fixing the water quality in Elk and Beaver lakes – the province is matching funding with the CRD to install an oxygenator that will reduce annual blooms of blue green algae.

Campaigning in a pandemic meant a lot more phone calls to constituents than face-to-face conversations and Popham said it gave her a chance to speak more in-depth about issues with people.

Sharma said it was “disheartening to see the [preliminary] numbers” showing Popham with the majority. A significant number of mail-in ballots remain to be counted, he said, adding many of those voters are older adults who wanted to avoid polling places amid the pandemic – a demographic he “zeroed in on” while campaigning.

Saanich South Liberal candidate Rishi Sharma checked on his campaign signs at the intersection of Interurban and Wilkinson roads on Oct. 23. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

“Out of respect for those who voted by mail,” Sharma said he won’t be conceding. While he felt the snap election was a “sly fox move” that left other parties playing catch-up, Sharma congratulated the B.C. NDP on a strong campaign.

Just before 10 p.m. on election night O’Connor told Black Press Media she was watching the results come in along with everyone else. Though she was “disappointed” official results won’t be available for some time, O’Connor is pleased to have had the opportunity to show voters of all ages that “young people can and should have a place in politics” – a message she feels has resonated.

Saanich South Green candidate Kate O’Connor waved to drivers at the corner of McKenzie Avenue and Quadra Street on Oct. 24. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

The 18-year-old added that her goal throughout the election has been to emphasize the importance of “intergenerational leadership” and “challenge people’s idea of who should be in politics.”

As of Oct. 23, 14,230 vote-by-mail packages had been issued to registered voters in Saanich South, where there are 38,954 registered voters.

Early voting for the 2020 provincial election has broken records, according to data released by Elections BC Thursday (Oct. 22).

Voting was “reasonably busy” at polling stations across the riding, said Susan Ross-Strocel, district electoral officer for Saanich South.

Many Saanich South polling stations including St. Andrew’s Regional High School, McKenzie elementary and Lakehill elementary were quieter than usual. Voters trickled in and out without much of a wait despite fewer voting tables to allow for social distancing.

Andrew Watson, communications director for Elections BC, told Black Press Media that “safe voting has been the focus” during this snap election. He noted that while turnout was steady through the morning, the “record turnout” for advanced voting and vote-by-mail meant that fewer people were voting on Election Day.

The agency said 681,055 people cast their ballot during seven days of advanced voting that ended Wednesday, compared to 614,389 in 2017. In 2013, there were 366,558 people who voted in advance and 290,220 in 2009, with fewer yet in earlier elections.

In Saanich South 7,918 people took advantage of advanced voting this election.

READ MORE: Polling stations see steady stream of voters for B.C. Election Day, no long lines

Due to the pandemic, more British Columbians have decided to vote by mail-in ballot than ever before. Election results won’t be finalized until after Nov. 6, when those mail-in ballots are counted. An estimated 14,230 mail-in ballots were requested by Elections BC within the Saanich South riding. There are 41,697 registered voters in the region.

Across B.C., a total 724,279 mail-in ballots were returned to Election BC, as of Friday, Oct. 23.

There are roughly 3.5 million registered voters in the province.

READ MORE: B.C. votes 2020

For more election coverage, go to vicnews.com/tag/bc-votes-2020.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to the ongoing pandemic, Elections BC estimates that roughly 35 per cent of voters used mail-in ballots, which will be counted beginning on Nov. 6. This means the Oct. 24 election results may change.

ALSO READ: Here’s what you need to know to vote


 

Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

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