Despite early reports that Doug Ford had won the Ontario Conservative leadership, party leaders are now saying that irregularities in the online voting system have put the outcome in doubt.
Numerous sources told CBC News that Ford had won over 50 percent of the vote and a subsequent recount. Then the candidates all disappeared behind closed doors for almost four hours.
Ford himself had described the voting process this week as “scandalous” and “ridiculous” because it was so difficult to understand and rife with technical difficulties.
Ford had asked the party to extend the deadline for voting. When he decided to contest the leadership, Ford told The Daily Caller that the challenge he faced was attracting enough new members to the party to win but added that he was confident he could do so.
The populist brother of the late Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, he is believed to have won just over 50 percent of the vote in an electronic electoral process that included a preferential ballot which weighted results on a regional basis. The same process was used in last year’s election of federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.
Tens of thousands of party members did not get to vote because they did not receive a personal identification number in the mail or were blocked from casting their ballot online.
Prior to the announcement, Alberta United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney brought the audience to its feet by encouraging right-of-center voters to stay united because “history is on your side…when conservatives are divided, tax raisers and parties of the left always win; but when Conservatives are united we can bring common-sense politics to government.”
This story is developing; check back for updates.