Three months of campaigning come to a climactic end Saturday evening when as many as 90,000 B.C. Liberal party members elect a new leader.

The man or woman chosen to succeed Gordon Campbell will be sworn in as B.C.'s 35th premier within days of the election.

The party appeared to work through an embarrassing setback Friday, when thousands of members had failed to receive personal identification numbers that would enable them to cast their leadership vote by phone or online.

B.C. Liberal leadership coverage on CBC

The B.C. Liberal Party will choose a new leader — and the province's new premier — on Saturday. Tune in to CBC Radio One and on television to the CBC News Network or CHEK TV from 6 to 7 p.m. PT for complete coverage of the leadership vote from the convention floor. And join Anu Dawit-Kanna here in a live online discussion from 6 to 7:30 p.m. PT and be a part of the political conversation.

The company organizing the electronic election, Intelivote, which said it had conducted several similar elections across Canada and abroad without problems, was at a loss to explain why the mailed-out PINs had not arrived by Friday's postal delivery.

The company and the party scrambled to get the PIN numbers to the members by phone and said they would keep at it all night Friday if necessary.

Memberships rejected

Kevin Falcon's manager, Norman Stowe, said he was satisfied with the outcome.

"I think the fact that we rebounded as quickly as we did and made provision so that people could get PIN numbers, I think that's the upside of the story," said Stowe.

The glitch followed the revelation earlier in the week at an estimated 6,000 to 9,000 new members were rejected because forms had not been filled out properly or there were other questions about their legitimacy.

Still, the party more than doubled its membership ranks during the campaign, rising from about 36,000 when candidates first started declaring in November.

Six candidates joined the race and battled for most of the ride to the leadership vote.

MLA Moira Stilwell and former Parksville mayor Ed Mayne could not raise enough support and dropped out by mid-February.

Preferential ballot

Polls have consistently put Christy Clark in the lead, but it's never been possible to determine if she will have enough votes in the preferential balloting process to win when first-choice votes are counted.

Of the four remaining candidates, the one with the fewest first-choice votes will be dropped off the ballot, and his or her second-choice votes will be distributed among the remaining three contenders.

Kevin Falcon and George Abbott both have strong support among cabinet and caucus members and will likely remain in the hunt after the first-choice count.

Mike de Jong is widely considered to be in fourth place and would be dropped off the ballot if that first count doesn't produce a winner.

It could be that the second choices made by those who voted for de Jong will decide the next premier.

On Thursday, key supporters of de Jong announced they were advising members to make Abbott their second choice.

The first-choice count is scheduled to be announced shortly after 6 p.m. PT.

With files from the CBC's Jeff Davies