UPDATE: NDP denied recount in Coquitlam-Burke Mountain as Isaacs' lead grows

Absentee ballots next to be counted for final tally, a number of ridings remain close

The election of BC Liberal Joan Isaacs in the tightly contested riding of Coquitlam-Burke Mountain will stand for now after Elections BC denied a recount request by the BC NDP last week.

But the BC NDP is still seeking an explanation for the denial, according to Glen Sanford, the NDP's deputy provincial director.

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"We're asking them for an explanation. We're still going back and forth with them," Sanford told The Tri-City News.

"We wanted to be on the record as insisting that every single vote be double-checked," he added, noting, "A lot more will be revealed when they count the absentee ballots."

Sanford said he wasn't concerned that Isaacs' winning margin increased to 268 votes from 170 counted on election night, noting that it's not unusual for totals to change following the initial count. (The numbers changed because Elections BC noticed a "transposition" error and corrected the mistake).

But he acknowledged that this is as unusual election in that every vote is significant because so many races are close and the future course of governance in B.C. depends on the final seat count between the BC Liberals, the NDP and the Greens.

In ridings where votes are close, he said, "the BC NDP will do all that's in our power to make sure it's been double-checked."

Currently, the BC Liberals have 43 seats in the legislature while the BC NDP hold 41 seats and the BC Greens have three seats; 44 seats are needed to form a majority government.

In Coquitlam-Burke Mountain riding, MLA-elect Isaacs' total is 9,581 votes (or 44.79% of votes cast) while Wickens, the incumbent, has 9,313 votes (43.53%).

Meanwhile, recounts for two other ridings will go ahead.

• A request by BC Liberal Jim Benninger in Courtenay-Comox will go ahead because only nine votes separate him from New Democrat Ronna-Rae Leonard, who was declared the winner last Tuesday. If he is successful, the recount could give Christy Clark's party a majority government.

• A request by BC Citizens First Party candidate Phillip James Ryan will go ahead in the Vancouver-False Creek riding, where BC Liberal incumbent Sam Sullivan kept his seat with 9,332 votes, just 560 votes ahead of New Democrat Morgane Oger. Ryan's request was approved because of evidence of discrepancies in counting. (An advance voting ballot account recorded 403 votes for one candidate while the tally sheet and parcel envelope containing ballots for that candidate listed 399.)

According to an Elections BC press release, recounts are only granted if the difference between the top two candidates is less than 100 votes or the request includes "factual basis that ballots were not correctly accepted or rejected, or that a ballot account does not accurately record the number of votes for a candidate."

Three other requests for recounts were also denied: in Maple Ridge-Mission, Richmond-Queensborough and Vancouver-False Creek, where Oger's request was turned because it didn't meet the conditions under the BC Elections Act and Ryan's request had already been approved.

As of Friday, the number of absentee votes across the province totalled 179,380. They will be counted May 22 to 24. If at that time the difference between the two top candidates in any riding is less than 1/500 of the votes counted, a judicial recount automatically takes place. Candidates can also ask for a recount of the final vote tally, but only in certain circumstances under the Election Act.

VOTE LEADS

Coquitlam-Burke Mountain, BC Liberal Joan Isaacs — 268

Vancouver-False Creek, BC Liberal Sam Sullivan — 560

Richmond-Queensborough - BC Liberal Jas Johan — 263

Maple Ridge-Mission - BC NDP — 120

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