At midweek, election results still unknown in local riding

Running in his third election campaign, the MP for Kitchener-Conestoga jokes he’s becoming known as “Landslide Louis.”

Having come up short in 2015 by 251 votes and winning in 2019 by 365, Tim Louis knows something about close elections. Two days after the September 20 election, he was still waiting to find out if he’d be heading back to Ottawa. At press time, he was leading Conservative candidate Carlene Hawley by fewer than 200 votes, a decision awaiting the full counting of mail-in ballots.

“I must have been called ‘Landslide Louis’ five times already today,” he said Wednesday afternoon as he was keeping himself occupied by picking up election signs.

At that point, the Elections Canada website reported Louis at 19,142 votes, 38.8 per cent of the total, while Hawley had 18,948 (38.4 per cent). The field was rounded out by the NDP’s Narine Dat Sookram with 5,782 (11.7 per cent), Kevin Dupuis of the People’s Party with 3,641 (7.4 per cent) and Owen Bradley of the Green Party, who received 1,796 votes (3.6 per cent).

The winner will depend on the 1,574 mail-in ballots outstanding as of press time, with an Elections Canada spokesman saying the tally wasn’t likely to be known until Wednesday night or midday Thursday.

“There’s a whole verification process here; we check the signature on the envelope. We make sure that that name corresponds to the person who actually applied for that mail-in ballot. We try to look at our voters list from advance polls and Monday (election day) to make sure that that person didn’t vote twice. All kinds of little things that can’t be done just like that. Before we even open the little envelope inside that has the ballot can take three to four hours for 500 ballots,” said Rejéan Grenier, noting that Kitchener-Conestoga’s 1,500 ballots would take three times that three- to four-hour timeline.

The process can be further hampered by the need to have witnesses from each party present for the review and counting.

Elections Canada saw record volumes of mail-in ballots this time around, with more than a million local votes cast that way. In 2019, by comparison, there were some 200,000, of which only 50,000 were local residents choosing to vote by mail; the rest were people away from their home ridings, either nationally or internationally, Grenier explained.

The wait for results mirrors what happened in 2015 and 2019, with Louis noting he’s thus far had to give neither a victory nor concession speech through three campaigns.

Supporters of both Louis and Hawley gathered Monday night had to go home with the fate of the riding still up in the air. The wait continued through Tuesday and Wednesday.

“It’s been a good campaign – we’re looking forward to the results, we’re optimistic, but we don’t know yet,” Hawley told supporters gathered Monday night at Kennedy’s Restaurant in St. Agatha.

On Tuesday, she told CBC Kitchener-Waterloo she was disappointed with the results.

“We are not anticipating a win at this point from the mail-in ballots,” she wrote in an email. “I’m ever grateful to my family and the many volunteers that supported the campaign.”

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