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BC Cons leadership vote turnout revealed

The BC Conservative Party's participation rate for the April 12 convention that elected new leader Dan Brooks looks better than previously reported.

Just a little better.

The party released a partly-redacted vote tally spreadsheet that shows 3,893 of its 4,145 members were eligible to vote for Kamloops' Brooks or Vancouver's Rick Peterson. With 1,165 ballots cast, turnout was 29.9 per cent, or two per cent better than previously reported.

Brooks beat Peterson 721-440 in votes, but the party used a weighted system to declare Brooks the winner with 1,967 points, over Peterson's 1,294. Brooks got 61.8 per cent of the overall vote, but when his support is compared with the party membership number, it appears only 18.5 per cent of the party is behind him.

Under party bylaws, each riding association was allocated 100 points, except those with less than 100 members got only the number of points equal to the actual number of members.

Peterson received majority votes in five of the party's regions (North Shore Sunshine Coast, Vancouver, Richmond Delta, Burnaby-New Westminster-Tri-Cities and Okanagan-Shuswap).

But Brooks had 647 points on Vancouver Island, compared to Peterson's 199.

Only three regions registered more than 100 ballots cast: Vancouver Island Central and North (seven ridings) 275, Okanagan Shuswap (seven ridings) 268 and Fraser Valley (nine ridings) 103.

Statistics show the party is especially weak in the province's populous southwestern mainland.

Only 352 ballots were cast across 47 riding associations from the Sunshine Coast to Fraser Valley. Peterson edged Brooks 183 to 167 in votes and 615-592 on points in the region.

The weighted points system affected only 10 ridings, but was mildly deceptive. In Kelowna-Lake Country, Peterson received all 100 points, even though he shutout Brooks 12-0 in that riding.

The BC Liberals used a similar weighted system in 2011, when Christy Clark defeated Kevin Falcon on the third ballot, 4,420 points to 4,080.

Adrian Dix became BC NDP leader with 9,772 votes over Mike Farnworth's 9,095 on the third ballot at the party's 2011 convention.

Coincidentally, the RCMP is probing the 2011 Liberal leadership vote. Burnaby Now reported on March 10 that officers questioned Coquitlam party member Sanjay Sharma about whether he received a PIN number and voting instructions.

Sharma told the newspaper he renewed his party membership with local MLA Harry Bloy, the only member of caucus to support Clark's leadership bid. Last fall, the Criminal Justice Branch appointed a special prosecutor after a complaint was filed by Dix related to the Liberals' so-called Quick Wins ethnic outreach strategy.

North Vancouver-based journalist Bob Mackin has reported for local, regional, national and international media outlets since he began as a journalist in 1990.

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