Larry Bagnell holds onto win after delayed count of hundreds of special ballots

The late count of hundreds of special ballots cast outside of Yukon led to some confusion Monday night about the final result of the territory's close election, but the returning officer has confirmed Larry Bagnell as the winner. 

Counting of 533 special ballots cast outside the territory wasn't finished until early Tuesday

Preliminary results indicate Liberal incumbent Larry Bagnell beat Conservative Party candidate Jonas Smith by just 164 votes. (Kaila Jefferd-Moore/CBC)

The late count of hundreds of special ballots cast outside of the territory led to some confusion Monday night about the final result of Yukon's close election, but the returning officer confirmed Liberal Larry Bagnell as the winner on Tuesday morning.

Michael Lauer, Elections Canada's returning officer in the Yukon, says Ottawa took longer than expected to send the results of special ballots cast outside the Yukon.

"Normally we have those numbers and we would have rolled those numbers into our numbers and reported them as one," he explained. 

The special ballot votes that delayed results were only from Yukoners living or travelling in other parts of the country, including university students and people in correctional facilities. All special ballots cast inside the territory were already accounted for.  

Lauer said he found out at 10:30 p.m. Monday that those ballots — all 533 of them — were not counted and wouldn't be for some time. 

That meant that while results indicated all polls were reported, there were still hundreds of outstanding ballots to be tallied — enough to potentially tip the balance in the neck-and-neck race between Bagnell and Conservative candidate Jonas Smith. 

Lauer said when he woke up at 5 a.m. to see an email from Elections Canada with the special ballot count, he immediately informed the candidates of the updated results. 

The preliminary results are as follows: 

  • Larry Bagnell, Liberal Party: 7,035
  • Jonas Smith, Conservative Party: 6,871
  • Justin Lemphers, NDP: 4,617
  • Lenore Morris, Green Party: 2,201
  • Joseph Zelezny, People's Party of Canada: 284 
Yukon's Conservative candidate Jonas Smith did not concede the election Monday night, knowing special ballots cast outside the territory had not yet been counted. (Chris Windeyer/CBC)

Vote spread increases to 164

Lauer said results will be validated on Thursday, but they aren't expected to change by more than a vote or two.

According to unofficial results on election day, Bagnell had finished with just 72 votes more than Smith. There is now a 164-vote spread between Bagnell and Smith. Because that's greater than one one-thousandth of the total vote count, a judicial recount is not required. 

Smith did not concede on Monday night, but his campaign office issued a statement Tuesday morning.

"While updated official numbers are in the process of being confirmed, it would appear that they are unlikely to change the outcome of yesterday's election," Smith said in the statement.

With files from Steve Silva


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