ST. JOHN'S, N.L. -- The latest estimates from Newfoundland and Labrador's elections authority indicate voter turnout in the delayed provincial election is unlikely to reach 50 per cent.

Elections NL spokesperson Adrienne Luther said today her office estimates a total of 150,000 special ballots have been requested by voters.

With her office reporting 33,523 votes cast in advance polls and 368,135 eligible voters, turnout will be 49.9 per cent if every special ballot is returned by the March 25 deadline.

Special ballots are cast by mail or at district voting offices, which were set up across the province before Elections NL cancelled in-person voting on Feb. 12 amid a COVID-19 outbreak in St. John's.

Chief electoral officer Bruce Chaulk had set a deadline of Feb. 19 to request a special ballot.

Last month, Elections NL's estimates for ballot requests indicated a 51 per cent voter turnout -- a historic low for the province.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 16, 2021.