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Ross presumptive Skeena winner in snap B.C. election

Election outcome will not be official until mail-in ballots are counted
Ellis Ross (left), BC Liberal party, celebrated with his wife, Tracey after being named the preliminary winner of the 2020 snap provincial election.

B.C. Liberal and incumbent Ellis Ross is expected to retain his seat as the MLA for the Skeena riding following Saturday’s snap provincial election.

Ross finished the night with 4,824 votes (53.18 per cent) and BC NDP candidate Nicole Halbauer finished the night with 3,900 votes (42.99 per cent).

Ross said the night felt like “the same way I felt when I was first elected three years ago.”

“I’m very humbled and honoured, but I’m also stunned,” Ross said. “The support Skeena has for me is actually incredible, it’s inspiring. Because I think — I hope — Skeena realizes that I actually support them just as much as they support me.”

Ross said he’s glad the campaign and election are over, however, because it was a tiring experience, especially trying to do it unexpectedly in the middle of the pandemic.

“It was actually very tiring and very stressful,” he said. “And the anxiety levels, you could feel the anxiety level of people who were kind of coming to terms with COVID. Yeah, it was a very strange election and I wasn’t ready.”

Ross said he is very grateful to Skeena for re-electing him, and he is also grateful to the other candidates for the way the entire campaign season ran in the riding.

“That was a very well-run, respectful campaign. Just like the last campaign. And there was nothing I would’ve changed,” he said. “Both [other] candidates actually held themselves very well, and I think that’s the most the voters could hope for when it comes to an election.”

Halbauer and her campaign team were not available for comment as of 10:50 p.m. on election day.

Independent candidate Martin Holzbauer finished the night with 347 votes (3.83 per cent) — not enough to take the riding, even if all the mail-in ballots went his way.

Holzbauer said he wanted to thank everyone involved in the Skeena campaign and he was happy with the local results, but he was frustrated John Horgan and the NDP are likely to have a majority because he felt the it was inappropriate for Horgan to call an election at this time.

“I wasn’t doing this for myself. I was doing this because so many people had a problem with it [the election],” he said.

Holzbauer said he does not approve of majority governments because they wield too much power. He reminded his fellow citizens and community members to continually hold governments to account.

”If people don’t try to educate themselves, it’s much easier for corporations and governments to control people,” he said.

Due to the pandemic, more British Columbians have decided to vote by mail-in ballot than ever before.

There were 1,765 mail-in ballots requested for the Skeena riding out of 21,262 registered voters, so those could still have an effect on the polls’ outcomes. Those mail-in ballots will not be counted until at least Nov. 6.

Across B.C., a total of 497,900 mail-in ballots were returned to Election BC, as of Friday, Oct. 23, representing 69 per cent of packages issued to date.

There are roughly 3.5 million registered voters in the province.

As of 10:02 p.m., The Canadian Press is projecting the BC NDP has won a majority government. The party has won or is leading in 54 of 87 seats. The BC Liberal Party has won or is leading in 30, and the BC Green Party has won or is leading in three seats.

Mail-in ballots will be counted by hand, starting in 13 days.