It could be a while after B.C. votes before we find out who won the upcoming provincial election.
A surge in mail-in ballots could mean B.C. voters won’t find out who won the election until weeks after voting day, Elections BC has warned.
By Monday, Elections BC had already received over 431,000 requests for vote-by-mail packages since the provincial election was called for Oct. 24.
The last election saw 6,375 votes returned by mail.
Surveys by Elections BC showed between 30 and 35 per cent of ballots - up to 800,000 people - could be cast by mail.
There will be an initial ballot count on voting day but absentee ballots, including mail-in ballots, won’t be counted for at least 13 days.
Between General Voting Day and final count, absentee ballots are screened to ensure that only eligible voters voted and that they only voted once, Elections BC states.
To vote by mail, voters need to request a voting package on the Elections BC website at: https://eregister.electionsbc.gov.bc.ca/ovr/welcome.aspx# or by phone at 1-800-661-8683.
As far as voting in person, Elections BC says it is implementing a number of measures to help voters cast their ballot safely in person.
Pandemic voting protocols have been developed in consultation with the Office of the Provincial Health Officer.
Information on safe voting practices for voting places are available at: https://elections.bc.ca/voting/voting-safely-and-covid-19/.
Elections BC encourages voters to wear a mask when they vote to help protect others.
Voters will not be asked to remove their mask to vote and will be asked to sanitize their hands before and after leaving the polling station.
Voting in person will also be available during the advance voting period from Thursday, Oct. 15 to Wednesday, Oct. 21, and on Election Day.
Advance voting places will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
There will be seven days of advance voting, up from six in 2017.
The additional advance voting day has been added to give voters more options and help reduce numbers in voting places, Elections BC notes.
The advance voting period includes two weekend days, Saturday, Oct. 17 and Sunday, Oct. 18.
Voting places will be open on Election Day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Voting places and the dates will be available on Elections BC’s website at: https://elections.bc.ca/.
They will also be listed on 'Where to Vote' cards sent to every registered voter in the province before the start of the advance voting period.
The final day for people to have registered by phone or online to vote was Saturday, Sept. 26.
Elections BC notes voters can still register to vote or update their information when they vote, but the process will take longer.
Voters can also still request a vote-by-mail package online or by phone, however, if they are not registered, or their voter information is out of date, they will need to take additional steps when completing their package.
Those additional steps include providing copies of acceptable identification when returning their package.