Almost half of Conservative members have voted in leadership contest

As the mail-in deadline gets closer, almost half of all Conservative party members have already sent in their ballots in the leadership race.

With a week to go, almost half of Conservative voters have mailed in ballots

The Conservative Party says 125,000 mail-in ballots have been received for the Conservative leadership, and 25,000 have been processed so far. The deadline for mail-in ballots is next Friday. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

As the deadline for voting by mail gets closer, almost half of all Conservative party members have already sent in their ballots in the party's leadership race.

The party confirmed Friday that at the end of the first week of processing, approximately 125,000 ballots have been received at the Deloitte Canada offices in Vaughn, Ont.

This is a turnout of about 48 per cent so far, with one week still to go. That's already higher than the percentage of members who voted in the party's last leadership race, which saw Stephen Harper take the helm in 2004. In that race, 37 per cent of members cast a ballot.

Since Monday, party officials have been opening mail-in packages to check that each includes the member's form stating their declaration of eligibility to vote and a photocopy of their identification.

If there is a problem with either of those, the ballot, which is sealed in a separate envelope, is set aside. A party official says so far about one in 10 ballots fall into this category. Under the watch of scrutineers, the secret envelope containing the ballot is then opened to check for identification or a missing declaration from.

Of the ballots set aside, 60 per cent have since been deemed valid.

Of the 125,000 packages received, a total of 25,000 have been processed so far. The ballots themselves will not be  counted until May 27, the same the day the winner will be announced in Toronto.

Members have until next Friday, May 26, at 5 p.m. ET, to have their ballots delivered to the Deloitte Canada offices. After that they must vote in person on May 27 at the leadership convention in Toronto or at one of 13 polling stations in select ridings across the country.