Nfld. & Labrador

Lab West recount a 'trying time' for Graham Letto, as Day 2 ticks by

"Whatever will be, will be," says the Liberal candidate who lost by five votes on election night.

Process could stretch into Friday or Saturday

Graham Letto says there is 'a lot riding on this recount' but it's out of his hands. (Katie Breen/CBC)

As of late Thursday afternoon, lawyers at Supreme Court in St. John's had worked their way through almost all of the 27 polls from the district of Labrador West in the judicial recount. 

Election night saw a five-vote win for first-time NDP candidate Jordan Brown over Liberal incumbent Graham Letto.

It has taken about two days for the parties to make their way through the ballots. Currently, there are around 50 ballots reserved for further examination. 

Lawyers will argue to either keep or disqualify those ballots that are disputed, which is when any change to the results would happen.

The initial plan was for those arguments to take place Friday, according to a spokesperson for Elections NL, but a judge could continue the proceedings into Thursday night. 

Reporters in the courtroom don't have a clear vantage point of the proceedings, but on Thursday learned that at least one of those set-aside ballots was thrown out. When it was reviewed, it was found to have a "no" marked next to each of the candidate names.

Letto on playing Sudoku and 'trying process'

Letto told reporters on Thursday during a lunch break that "it's a trying process" but one that he respects. 

"It's a process we have to go through, and I'm trying to deal with it the best way I can," he said. 

And that includes trying to stay busy, during this "difficult time."

"I'm doing a lot of Sudoku and I would consider myself now close to a Sudoku expert, and I've been pulling a lot of dandelions," Letto said, chuckling.

Candidates anxiously look on as lawyers go through ballots. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

That moment of levity was the only one in the interview, with Letto acknowledging that the balance of the Liberals having a majority in the House of Assembly depends on this outcome.

"There is a lot riding on this recount … but it's out of my hands," he said.

"Whatever will be, will be."

Letto said he was surprised by the election night result.

"[But] I respect the wishes of the people and I respect the outcome of this judicial recount whatever it might be."

'Interesting process'

Outside Supreme Court on Wednesday, Brown maintained a positive attitude. 

"It's good. Everything is up for dispute so you have to take everything as it comes. We'll see what happens. It's an interesting process," he said.

Brown said the process is more formal than he imagined, and is taking everything as it comes.

He remains confident he will hold on to the seat. 

"We just have to take it as it comes," he said. 

"I'm a positive-thinking person.… I still got it."

MHA Jordan Brown outside Supreme Court in St. John's. (Katie Breen/CBC)

The votes have already been individually counted on election night. This process will see them counted for a second time — the first and only time they'll be counted before a judge. 

It's also the first time lawyers have had the chance to argue whether individual votes should or should not be counted.

Whoever wins will be sworn in as the Labrador West MHA in the following days.

He'll then join the rest of the elected officials in the House, likely in time to vote on the province's 2019 budget.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Katie Breen, Ariana Kelland and Stephanie Kinsella

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