Recap: Narrow preliminary lead for the NDP in Chilliwack-Kent, mail-ins to be counted

Chilliwack-Kent provincial election NDP candidate Kelli Paddon watching results as they come in on election night Oct. 24, 2020. She currently maintains the lead, but an estimated 5,000-plus mail-in ballots are yet to be counted. (Submitted)Chilliwack-Kent provincial election NDP candidate Kelli Paddon watching results as they come in on election night Oct. 24, 2020. She currently maintains the lead, but an estimated 5,000-plus mail-in ballots are yet to be counted. (Submitted)
Independent candidate Jason Lum currently trails in votes as the 2020 election heads into a new leg – waiting for the final mail-in ballot count. (Facebook/Jason Lum)Independent candidate Jason Lum currently trails in votes as the 2020 election heads into a new leg – waiting for the final mail-in ballot count. (Facebook/Jason Lum)
Incumbent Laurie Throness watches the election results on Oct.24. Throness came into the lead a few times as the race between he and NDP’s Kelli Paddon grinds to a standstill. (Facebook/Laurie Throness)Incumbent Laurie Throness watches the election results on Oct.24. Throness came into the lead a few times as the race between he and NDP’s Kelli Paddon grinds to a standstill. (Facebook/Laurie Throness)

As the chaos of Election Day died down, voters in Chilliwack-Kent hunkered down in the wait for final results.

With thousands of mail-in ballots yet to be counted, the Chilliwack-Kent race has remained airtight between Incumbent and ex-B.C. Liberal Laurie Throness and NDP candidate Kelli Paddon. The two battled over the leading spot throughout Election Day and late into the night. As it stands on Monday (Oct. 26), Paddon holds the most votes with 5,199; Throness is less than 200 away with 5,004.

Chilliwack city councillor Jason Lum (Independent) had a strong showing with 3,842 votes, at times keeping within a few votes of the major party candidates.

RELATED: B.C. VOTES 2020: Chilliwack-Kent race too close to call after 15,000 votes counted

After a confusing campaign, B.C. Greens hopeful Jeff Hammersmark took away 1,326 votes. Libertarian candidate Eli Gagné brought up the rear with 239. B.C. Elections counted a total of 15,610 votes on Election Day.

Throness took to social media the afternoon following Election Day to thank the campaign volunteers and expressed excitement to see the end results of what has already become one most intriguing elections in the province.

“I want to congratulate all my candidate colleagues for running a strong race,” Throness wrote on his Facebook page. “They are good people. It’s hard to run for office, and we need to appreciate and thank all who offer themselves for service.”

RELATED: Election turnout down across Fraser Valley and B.C.

Though currently trailing, Lum, too, expressed pride in his team for facing the “monumental task” of assembling a political campaign in just a few weeks leading up to Oct. 24.

As for Chilliwack-Kent, I guess we’ll have some waiting to do before any official congratulations are in order. I do want to say how proud I am of all the amazing #teamlum supporters, and volunteers that helped out this past three weeks.” Lum wrote in a post in the wee hours of Oct. 25, when counting slowed to a halt. ““You were all incredible. I am so grateful.”

Currently leading in the election, Paddon said while the final results will by necessity take some time to finalize, she appreciates Elections BC’s safety measures and “ensuring everyone could vote safely.” She is optimistic at the NDP’s majority status as the government continues to work through the pandemic toward recovery.

“[Premier-elect John Horgan] has said that no one party has a monopoly on good ideas, so we will continue to look for ways to work together going forward,” she said in a Facebook statement the morning after the election.

Even if the highest possible number of requested vote-by-mail packages are returned, voter turnout for Chilliwack-Kent is down about six per cent from the 2017 election. In 2017, the riding saw just uder 60 per cent of registered voters cast their ballots, whereas 2020’s numbers hover closer to 53 per cent. Regionally speaking, between Maple Ridge, Mission, Abbotsford and the Chilliwack ridings, Chilliwack had the lowest turnout this year, with a maximum of 47 per cent of voters participating.

Across B.C., a total of 478,900 mail-in ballots were returned to Election BC, as of Friday, Oct. 23. There are roughly 3.5 million registered voters in the province.

– With files from Tyler Olsen


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