Canada election: No winner in tight Manitoba riding, special ballots will pick MP or trigger recount

Nearly a full day after polls closed in Charleswood—St. James—Headingley—Assiniboia, voters in the riding still don’t know who will represent them in the House of Commons.

The race between incumbent Conservative MP Marty Morantz and Liberal Dr. Doug Eyolfson was the only Manitoba contest so close that a clear winner couldn’t be projected Monday night.

Read more: Familiar faces as most Manitoba incumbents take back federal election seats

And it’s not looking like voters will get an answer Tuesday either.

“We expect the vote count to continue tomorrow,” Eyolfson said in a post on social media late in the day Tuesday.

Click to play video: 'Election Day 2021: Manitoba ridings to watch' Election Day 2021: Manitoba ridings to watch

Election Day 2021: Manitoba ridings to watch

After election-day and early ballots were counted Monday, Morantz — who took the riding from Eyolfson by 2,417 votes in 2019 — was leading Eyolfson by just over 100 votes.

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But there’s still more than 3,000 special ballots left to count, and an Elections Canada spokesperson says those votes will either pick a winner, or trigger an automatic recount.

“If 1/1000 of the total number of votes cast is the difference between the top two candidates, then (there’s) an automatic recount. So let’s say there’s 5000 ballots cast in one riding and there’s only 50 votes that separate the first and second candidates, then there’s an automatic recount,” explains Marie-France Kenny from Elections Canada.

Read more: As it happened: 2021 Canadian election coverage

Kenny says it will take some time for the special ballots, which include votes that had been mailed in or cast in person at Elections Canada offices, to be counted.

Thanks at least in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, Elections Canada received a record number of mail-in ballots this year. More than a million have already been received, and several more that were dropped off at local Elections Canada offices and polling stations are still to be included in the final tally.

While staff in large, centralized counting facilities have already tallied votes that arrived from Canadian Forces members, incarcerated voters and Canadians abroad, votes from locals still needed to be verified.

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That work began Tuesday morning in local riding offices across the country, including Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia— Headingley.

But Kenny said it’s not just as simple as counting a few thousand ballots.

Elections Canada staff must go through each ballot to make sure there are no duplicates and that it doesn’t belong to someone who also voted in person.

Read more: Three Manitoba ridings will set tone for federal election outcome: expert

Officials must also verify voters’ signatures, and only then can the ballot be counted.

Kenny couldn’t say for sure when a decision will be announced in the riding.

Morantz did not speak publicly Monday night, but sent out a statement to media saying he’d comment after all the votes are counted.

Click to play video: 'Vote before election day at advance polls or with the ‘special ballot process’' Vote before election day at advance polls or with the ‘special ballot process’

Vote before election day at advance polls or with the ‘special ballot process’ – Sep 10, 2021

In his statement on social media Tuesday, Eyolfson suggested voters enjoy the fall weather while elections officials continue the count.

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“While we wait for the results, I encourage you to get outside and enjoy the nice weather, and for my volunteers, perhaps a nap!”

Read more: Candidates in tight Manitoba riding vie for last minute votes

As of Tuesday there were still 24 close races where local postal ballots could decide the winners across Canada

Elections Canada plans to post updates of their progress counting special ballots from local voters on their website so people can get a sense of how close they are to the finish line of some of these long races.

— with files from Joe Scarpelli and The Canadian Press

Click to play video: 'Election Day 2021 in Manitoba' Election Day 2021 in Manitoba

Election Day 2021 in Manitoba

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