The BC Liberals Tom Shypitka has swept Kootenay East according to preliminary results in the 2020 BC election. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

Shypitka returned as Kootenay East MLA

Shypitka will be an opposition MLA, facing a strengthened NDP

Preliminary results on Kootenay East are showing incumbent MLA Tom Shypitka will be returned to represent the riding in Victoria.

Shypitka, of the BC Liberals, will be an opposition MLA as the government of Premier John Horgan has managed to secure the majority he wanted for the New Democratic Party.

On election night, the NDP is projected to have 55 seats in the next legislature, with the BC Liberals at 29 and the BC Greens at 3.

Under the preliminary results – which include advance and in-person votes – Shypitka has secured 8,212 of 13,767 votes cast, representing 59.65 of the vote in the riding.

His lead over NDP challenger Wayne Stetski was just shy of double, with Stetski securing 4,152 votes (30.16 per cent), and BC Greens candidate Kerri Wall securing 1,403 votes (10.19 per cent).

Mail-in ballots will not be counted until 13 days after the election in order to screen for voters doubling-up.

In Kootenay East, 3,236 mail-in ballots were requested – less than the lead that Shypitka has over Stetski as of 11:30 pm on election night, meaning that even if all mail-in ballots went to Stetski, Kootenay East would remain a BC Liberal riding.

So far, 13,767 votes have been counted in the riding. Adding the 3,236 mail-in ballots (assuming they are all returned) would put the total vote for the riding at 17,003 votes – and turnout at 52.91 per cent considering there are 32,135 eligible voters in Kootenay East.

All results above are preliminary: complete results will not be known until November 6 at the earliest.

BC politics