Byelection win gives P.E.I.’s governing Conservatives a slim majority government

Prince Edward Island’s governing Progressive Conservatives have won a crucial byelection that will transform their minority government into a slim majority.

With the election of Zack Bell in the district of Charlottetown-Winsloe, the Tories will now have 14 seats to the combined 13 held by opposition parties.

Premier Dennis King has said his government would continue to take a collaborative approach if the Tories formed a majority.

Going into Monday’s vote, the Tories had 13 seats while the Greens under Peter Bevan-Baker had eight seats and the Liberals under interim leader Sonny Gallant had five.

In the 2019 general election, the Tory candidate in Charlottetown-Winsloe finished third behind the Green candidate and the winning Liberal, Robert Mitchell, who stepped down last month after representing the riding for 13 years.

Bell took slightly more than 49 per cent of the votes compared with 27 per cent for Green party candidate Chris van Ouwerkerk, 22 per cent for Liberal Zac Murphy, and one per cent for New Democrat Lynne Thiele.

Nearly 40 per cent of registered voters cast ballots during three days of advance voting for the byelection, and another 5.6 per cent voted by mail.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, voters were asked to wear a mask when voting and to comply with physical distancing and capacity limit protocols.

Each polling station featured election officials wearing personal protective equipment, protective plastic barriers and hand-sanitizing stations.

As well, voters were asked to show their identification without handing it to election officials, and every voter was to be issued a new pencil with their ballot.

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