Elections Canada volunteers and voters at a voting station in Whitehorse on Oct. 21. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Record number of Yukoners hit the polls this election

Hundreds of ballots came in late as part of a close race.

A record number of Yukoners cast ballots during the federal election, says an Elections Canada officer.

More than 21,000 residents voted, roughly 72 per cent of the eligible electorate, said Michael Lauer, returning officer for Elections Canada for the Yukon.

“It exceeds the national average,” he said, noting that the national average hovered around 66 per cent.

“Yukoners have always been engaged when it comes to their politics and their elections. We generally always exceed the national averages for voter turnout.”

Larry Bagnell was named MP on election night after a tight race.

Preliminary numbers show he beat conservative contender Jonas Smith by 164 votes. These numbers will be validated on Oct. 24.

At first blush, however, Smith refused to concede defeat, as Bagnell had won by a slim margin of 72 votes.

Lauer said there was a problem counting special ballots in Ottawa on election night. The numbers were late.

“I didn’t get those numbers until I checked my email first thing this morning,” he said. “When I became aware of the issue, I communicated that to the parties, which is part of the reason why Mr. Smith didn’t concede.”

Smith conceded the morning of Oct. 22.

“We were waiting 533 votes to get their results from Ottawa,” he said. “There were enough votes out there that could have changed the outcome. In the end, it did not.”

Lauer said the percentage of Yukon voter turnout in 2015 was higher, at 76 per cent. That worked out to be less than 20,000 people in 2015.

In Whitehorse there was a bomb threat at F.H. Collins Secondary School on election day. An evacuation order was issued at 1 p.m. The situation saw Yukon RCMP attend and stopped traffic on the Robert Campbell Bridge in and out of the Riverdale neighbourhood. The bridge re-opened just after 2 p.m.

Lauer made Ottawa aware of the situation.

“We had agreed if the road was still closed at 4 p.m., we would discuss what, if anything, we would do,” he said. “At the end of the day, I made the decision that nothing else was going to be done, because there was still four hours for electors to get to their polls to vote.”

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

Preliminary vote results

Larry Bagnell, Liberal Party 7,035

Justin Lemphers, NDP 4,617

Lenore Morris, Green Party 2,201

Jonas Smith, Conservative Party 6,871

Joseph Zelezny, PPC 284

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