The recount has begun, but the outcome is still unknown, as Judge David Orsborn works to determine who the rightful MHA in Labrador West will be.
Right now, New Democrat Jordan Brown holds a slim five-vote margin of victory. Labrador West as an NDP seat is all that stands between the Liberals and a majority government, should the result be overturned and Liberal Graham Letto return to the House of Assembly as the representative for Labrador West.
A cabinet minister prior to election day, Letto says it’s been difficult stuck in limbo since election night, not knowing whether he has a seat in the House of Assembly or not.
“I now consider myself a sudoku expert. I say that in all honesty. I’ve plucked every dandelion that I can find out on my lawn. In fact, people are asking me to do their lawns now. I won’t tell you what count I have on dandelions, but there’s plenty,” he said.
“It’s tough when you know the House is open and you’re sitting there like a lame duck, really. There’s nothing you can do.”
Letto says it will be difficult if the loss is confirmed, but he will respect whatever the result of the recount is.
Brown is the winner for now, but can’t perform any duties as MHA because the final vote count is not yet known.
He says he feels comfortable that the result will not be overturned.
“It’s only five votes off, so from May 16 to the current day, it’s been pretty nerve-wracking at points,” said Brown.
“I feel confident. I’m a positive thinking person, so yeah, I’m pretty confident. I think I still got it.”
The judicial recount, triggered through the less-than-ten vote margin, sees four lawyers and Orsborn meticulously counting each vote, one by one.
Each lawyer – Stephen May for the Liberals, Lynn Moore for the NDP, Judy Manning for the Progressive Conservatives and Andrew Fitzgerald for Chief Electoral Officer Bruce Chaulk – has the chance to flag any votes they wish to take a closer look at. Once a ballot is flagged, it’s set aside until each ballot has been recounted.
On Wednesday, lawyers cited 40 ballots they want to review from 15 of the 27 polls counted on election night. On election night, 26 ballots were rejected. It’s unclear how many of those ballots are within the 40 set aside for scrutiny.
Elections Newfoundland and Labrador has already counted each ballot twice to arrive at the 1366-1361-508 election night result for the NDP, Liberals and PCs, respectively.
Each lawyer will get their chance to argue whether a ballot should be discounted or admitted into the vote total. Ultimately, Orsborn will make the final decision on which ballots stay and which ballots go, or if the result will ultimately remain the same.
Three days have been set aside for the recount at Supreme Court in St. John’s. Day 2 of counting begins at 9 a.m on Thursday.