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Downey-Lehman race much closer than originally appeared

Downey's margin of victory was initially pegged at 609 votes, but official results now place the figure at 296

If you were watching the Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte (BSOM) provincial election race last Thursday and felt the tension in the air, it was even closer than first thought.

Official results from Elections Ontario indicate the margin between Progressive Conservative incumbent Doug Downey and Liberal candidate Jeff Lehman was the closest among the province’s 124 electoral districts (ridings).

Up until Tuesday, the unofficial results had Downey winning by 609 votes, but on Wednesday morning, Elections Ontario issued its final and official tallies and the gap now sits at 296 votes.

In the hotly contested BSOM riding, there were also 210 rejected votes, including 118 due to marking, 65 that were unmarked by the voter, and 27 ballots that were declined.

Lehman, Barrie’s three-term mayor who has said he will not seek re-election for that post, won the advanced voting with 6,862 votes to Downey’s 5,945.

Downey and Lehman were neck and neck throughout the evening on June 2, with no concession or victory speeches coming until after midnight.

In the end, Downey and the PCs, led by Doug Ford, won another majority government with 40.82 per cent of the vote.

While it was a big win for the PCs, it came in a provincial election with the lowest voter turnout in Ontario history. Only 43 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots.

While the numbers show the BSOM riding was the closest race in the 2022 election, there were others that were tightly contested.

Other close races included Eglinton-Lawrence, which the PC candidate won by 524 votes over the Liberal candidate, followed by Oshawa’s margin of 747 votes as the NDP bested its closest PC rival. Thunder Bay-Superior North saw the NDP beat the PC candidate by 800 and Etobicoke-Lakeshore was won by a margin of 842 in favour of the PC over the Liberal hopeful.

Meanwhile, in Barrie-Innisfil, it was a much larger win for PC incumbent Andrea Khanjin, who retained her seat at Queen’s Park by outdistancing second-place NDP candidate Pekka Reinio by 11,283 votes.

In the 2018 provincial election, Downey’s first BSOM race, he defeated second-place NDP candidate Dan Janssen by 7,554 votes, while Khanjin won her first provincial election by 9,460 votes over Reinio.

For more information on the final results from Elections Ontario, click here.