UPDATED: The race isn’t over yet! Sault may end up one of the closest in Canadian history


Update @ 4:54 p.m. – Shortly after the publishing of this story, the remaining two physical polling stations have reported results increasing Liberal candidate Terry Sheehan’s lead over Conservative candidate Sonny Spina from 30 votes to 55. One poll representing special ballots remains with results anticipated by end of day tomorrow, or possibly Thursday.

In this 44th general election, Sault Ste. Marie may have just found ourselves securing another milestone in the history books. Preliminary results for the Sault electoral district were just updated as of 3:26 p.m. ET with 181 out of 184 polls reporting a mere 30 vote lead for Liberal incumbent Terry Sheehan over Conservative candidate Sonny Spina.

Of the three polls left to report in, two of those polls are physical polling stations from within the riding and the remaining poll representing mail-in ballots yet to be counted. The voter turnout so far has translated to just shy of 60% of registered voters.

When asked, an Elections Canada representative we spoke with stated there could be a number of reasons for the delayed results from the three polling stations left to report results. The most common reason would be due to a very late night where the Returning Officer decided to delay counting to allow polling station workers the opportunity to get some rest before resuming. In this case, ballots would have been locked away in a safe until the counting could be resumed. However, the representative could not comment on whether or not that was in fact the reasons for the delays here in the Sault.

With regards to mail-in ballot counting, there were a record number of ballots cast using this method of voting with a total of 951,039 returned as of Monday morning. Officially, Elections Canada has stated that it could take anywhere from 2 to 5 days to count all of the mail-in ballots, however, the representative we spoke with commented that we may see some final results by end of day tomorrow or Thursday at the latest.

“The process of counting of mail-in ballots requires from 3 to 4 hours of physical man hours per 500 ballots,” stated an Elections Canada Media Representative. Canada does not utilize any automation or machine related processes to either validate or count mail-in ballots, everything is done by hand.

All mail-in ballots are first subject to an ‘integrity check’ before even being opened which verifies that the outer envelope has been signed and that the voter has not also voted in person, among other measures. These checks are not needed for voters casting votes from countries outside of Canada or from incarcerated voters or members of the military. There is not need to verify whether or not those voters may have also been able to cast ballots in person.

As counting of ‘Special Ballots’ which includes mail-in votes commences, Elections Canada will update the status of counting for electoral districts across the country on their website. In addition to the number of ‘Special Ballots’ counted, the estimated percentage of local special ballots counted is also made available.

Where does this leave us here in the Sault Electoral District?

If the number of votes between the Liberal and Conservative candidates shrinks any further after the results of the three remaining polls finally come in, an Automatic Judicial Recount will most likely be triggered. According to the Judicial Recount Handbook, “A judicial recount must take place if the difference between the number of votes cast for the candidate with the most votes and the number of votes cast for any other candidate is less than one one-thousandth (1/1000) of the valid votes cast”.

By our calculations, there is currently a 30 vote spread between Terry Sheehan and Sonny Spina. At 1/1000, the number of votes which would trigger an automatic recount would be 28.7, a mere one or two vote difference depending on whether that figure would be rounded up to 29 or left at 28.

In summary, the winner of this race isn’t clear at all and it could be a few more days before electors in the Sault find out. That is if an application for Judicial Recount isn’t filed by either candidate or an elector, which could further delay the final results for weeks or even longer.

Preliminary Results
Voting Results for the electoral district of Sault Ste. Marie
Party Candidate Votes Percent of Votes
People’s Party – PPC Kasper Makowski 1,873 4.9 %
NDP-New Democratic Party Marie Morin-Strom 7,697 20.1 %
Liberal Terry Sheehan 14,353 37.5 %
Conservative Sonny Spina 14,323 37.4 %
Total number of valid votes: 38,246

Voter Turnout: 38,246 of 66,121 registered electors (57.84 %) — does not include electors who registered on election day.

Population: 80,371
Number of electors on list: 66,121

Last updated at 15:26 ET

Stay with SaultOnline/ONNtv as we continue to cover this extremely close race!





  1. The catch and release will continue, the crime and drugs will go up and the city will go further downhill. The rogue mayor will continue on concentrating only on a downtown plaza for the junkies to take over because getting a plaque with his name on it is his only concern. He is on his way out the door and doesn’t care about the real problems facing the desperate ailing city.

  2. thanks PPC for wasting your vote on a protest! Sonny would have been declared winner already. And across the country ppc votes gave the boy his mandate. We could have gotten rid of trudeau now and tried next time. for the record……..Max shouldve been the conservative leader.

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