Nfld. & Labrador

NDP's Jordan Brown declared MHA in recount for Labrador West seat

"Finally! Now I can take my seat [in the House of Assembly]," says Brown, after a three-day judicial recount.

Brown edges out Liberal incumbent Graham Letto with 2-vote margin

Jordan Brown, left, celebrates his recount win with jubilant NDP Leader Alison Coffin and others on Friday afternoon. (Katie Breen/CBC)

After a days-long recount in a St. John's courtroom, NDP newcomer Jordan Brown has been declared the official winner of the Labrador West seat.

His five-vote win over Liberal incumbent Graham Letto on election night has been reduced to just two votes following the recount.

That makes the total vote count 1,364 for Brown, and 1,362 for Letto. 

An excited Brown was joined by NDP Leader Alison Coffin, and others, on the steps of Supreme Court in St. John's.

"Finally! Now I can take my seat [in the House of Assembly] which is great," Brown said.

How does he fell about a two-vote victory?

"That was close if there ever was close," Brown said.

Brown, who said he and Letto have known each other for years, said all three candidates ran a respectful campaign and that was likely why the race ended up so close.

After the final tally was announced, the two men shook hands and hugged each other. 

Letto, for his part, said it was a disappointing result, losing by two votes.

Graham Letto says his narrow defeat shows 'how important it is for people to get out and exercise their democratic right and vote.' (Katie Breen/CBC)

"All I will say is that it shows how important it is for people to get out and exercise their democratic right and vote," he told reporters after the official tally was announced.

"We can look back on election night and election day and see all kinds of ways we could have gotten two votes, but nevertheless, that's the way the people of Labrador West have spoken. I respect their decision ... it's not the end of the world and I wish Jordan Brown all the best in his role as MHA for Lab West."

'Human error' and other disputed ballet categories

Lawyers spent the last few days going through all 27 polls from the district. 

About 50 ballots had been set aside for further examination as of late Thursday. Those were divided into categories, including "human error" and "unorthodox marks" and "marks in one box."

In the latter category, for example, lawyers for both Brown and Letto sparred over one ballot. Letto's lawyer said the mark on the ballot is clear for his client and that the mark for Brown was inadvertent. The judge counted that vote for Letto.

That kind of debate is happening for all of the ballots that had been set aside, and the judge has decided that all of the disputed ballots will be dealt with continuously, with no break in the proceedings. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Katie Breen

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