ST. JOHN'S, N.L. -- Nearly a month after Newfoundland and Labrador's provincial election was derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, officials say the counting of the ballots has begun -- at least for those that have been returned.

A spokeswoman for Elections NL confirmed today that ten teams of two people had begun the laborious process of tallying special ballots.

Such ballots are cast either through mail-in voting kits or at district voting offices, which were set up across the province before a COVID-19 outbreak upended the election in mid-February.

Voters were set to head to the polls on Feb. 13, but officials called off all in-person voting the night before as an outbreak spread through the St. John's metro area.

All ballots will now be cast by mail instead, and they must be postmarked for return by March 12 in order to be counted.

Elections NL has said that logging mail-in ballots is time consuming and the count could carry on into April.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2021.