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Close election races still up in air

The final make-up of the next provincial legislature remains unknown as two ridings are headed for a recount and several others are close enough they could change hands after absentee ballots are counted.

Of the province's 85 electoral districts, 16 ridings were won by less than five per cent of the vote. After the preliminary count, the B.C. Liberals hold 49 seats and the B.C. NDP 36.

Final results will not be known until after the three-day final count period which begins May 25.

At that time the Delta South and Cariboo-Chilcotin ridings will both have recounts, which are allowed when 100 votes or less separate the two leading candidates.

B.C. Liberal candidate Wally Oppal led his opponent Independent Vicki Huntington in Delta South by only two votes. And in Cariboo-Chilcotin, NDP candidate Charlie Wyse holds a slim 23-vote lead over Liberal candidate Donna Barnett.

Absentee ballots will also be counted for all 85 ridings across the province during the final ballot count. These include mail-in ballots, votes from residents who cast their ballot outside their assigned location, and special voting from places such as hospitals, isolated communities and logging camps.

Historically, these ballots have accounted for five to seven per cent of total ballots in any given electoral district, which could be enough to tip seats with small vote margins.

In addition to the ridings headed for a recount, a few others are being watched closely.

Both Maple Ridge ridings were separated by less than 200 votes, or around one per cent of total valid ballots. Seats in the two Saanich ridings were separated by less than two per cent.

Garrett Zehr reports for The Tyee.

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