North·YUKON VOTES 2021

Election tie confirmed in Yukon's Vuntut Gwitchin riding, recount to follow

It's official — there was a tie in Monday's Yukon general election in the Vuntut Gwitchin riding, and a judicial recount will now follow.

Outcome will determine which party has most seats in the next Legislative Assembly

The Vuntut Gwitchin riding is Yukon's northernmost and least-populated riding. It includes the community of Old Crow. (Alexandra Byers/CBC News)

It's official — there was a tie in Monday's Yukon general election in the Vuntut Gwtichin riding. A judicial recount, and possible draw for the winner, will now follow sometime in the next few days.

On Thursday, Elections Yukon confirmed the unofficial results from election night that showed an even split of votes between Vuntut Gwitchin's incumbent Liberal candidate, Pauline Frost, and the NDP candidate Annie Blake. Both received 78 votes on Monday.

Max Harvey, Yukon's chief electoral officer, said an application has now been made to the Supreme Court of Yukon to conduct a recount of ballots.

It follows what's called the official addition, which happened Thursday. That process involves opening each ballot box in the riding to add up the number of ballots and reject ballots based on the official statement inside.

Harvey says there were no rejected ballots in Vuntut Gwitchin, so Monday's results stand.

According to Elections Yukon, if a tie remains after the official addition, or the candidate with the most votes is ahead of other candidates by 10 votes or fewer, the returning officer of the riding asks for a recount of all individual ballots.

Harvey said it could happen anytime in the next few days.

Maxwell Harvey, Yukon's chief electoral officer, says the official recount of ballots will happen sometime no later than Monday. (Steve Silva/CBC)

"That decision is up to the judge of the Supreme Court, and the statutory direction is that it be done within four days of the application, so based on that it would be sometime ... no later than Monday."

If there's still a tie after the ballot recount, there will be an immediate drawing of lots in front of the judge, to determine the winner.

Winner may break tie in final seat count

The Vuntut Gwitchin riding is of particular interest because it may determine another tie.

On election day, the Liberal Party and the Yukon Party each won eight seats in Yukon Legislative Assembly.

Winning one more seat would give the Liberal Party the most seats, though not a majority, and leave the NDP where it was before the election, at two seats.

And if the NDP pick up the Vuntut Gwitchin riding, the Liberals and Yukon Party will remain tied in the seat count — though Sandy Silver's Liberals are expected to have the first chance at forming a government.

Harvey couldn't say exactly how a draw would be conducted for Vuntut Gwitchin, what kind of receptacle might be used, and if it's a hat, whose hat.

"That's a great question," he said.

"I'm doing some research on some of the past precedents on that. Obviously it has to be fair and compliant and that's something I'll be discussing with the returning officer, and the returning officer will probably discuss that with the judge as well. So more to follow on that." 

With files from Steve Silva and Claudiane Samson

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