(Photo supplied by VistaRadio staff)
We are witnessing a provincial election unlike any other.
Elections BC says the number of mail-in ballots skyrocketed this year, an increase that’s unprecedented in B.C.’s history.
As of late Thursday night, there were nearly three-point-five million registered voters in B.C. Of those registered, just over 724,279 vote-by-mail packages were issued.
Deputy Chief Electoral Officer Charles Porter says there has been a huge increase in absentee ballot requests compared to the previous election.
Elections BC also says British Columbians weren’t shy when it came to advance voting. 681,055 voters hit the polls early during advance voting, which ended Wednesday.
The total number of ballots tallied in the initial count will depend on how many voters vote in person Saturday, but they say it’s likely there will be fewer people out on Election Day due to the dramatic increase of vote-in-ballots.
With advance polls closed, and the deadline for mailing in your ballot passed, what are your options to vote?
Registered voters should have received a “Where to Vote” card in the mail, but if you didn’t receive one, you can find your polling station on the Elections BC website or by using their App.
If you can’t make it to your designated polling station, you can vote at any polling station. You can also vote at District Offices, but those offices close at 4:00 pm.
In order to cast a ballot, you must be 18 or older by General Voting Day, a Canadian citizen, and a B.C. resident for the past six months. People going to school here, who live elsewhere, can vote if you meet the six-month requirement.
You can take a mask, and your own pencil, to the polls.
You will have to show either a single piece of Government-issued identification, that has your name, address and photo on it or two pieces of ID or documents that confirm your name, with one showing your address.
You can use things like property tax notices, school transcripts or utility bills. Electronic versions of documents on your phone are acceptable.
Voters who don’t have identification can have their identity vouched for by another person, like another voter in your district, or a close family member.
For those with disabilities, there are braille resources and plastic ballot templates at polling stations. You can also get help marking your ballot, just mention to the election official that you will need help.
There is also a vote-by-phone option, only for those who have a disability, underlying health condition, or are self-quarantining, and couldn’t vote by mail.
All voting places are wheelchair accessible. Voters who can’t enter a voting place can vote outside the building, at the curb or in the parking lot.
If you requested a mail-in ballot but didn’t get around to mailing it, you can bring it into a voting station.
If you work on Election Day, you are entitled to four consecutive hours free from work to vote. You do not have to be paid for this time if the four hours are outside of your work schedule.
The close of the polls on election night is usually the beginning of the end. This election, however, will be different because of all the mail-in ballots.
Porter says they will begin counting them 13 days later and strive to have the results as soon as they can, but can’t say how long.
All of the mail-in ballots and absentee ballots must be screened before they are counted to make sure people do not vote by mail and then in person.
They are also checked to ensure a voter is registered and legally entitled to vote.
They will likely delay the final election results until the week of November 9th.
– with files from Patti Mertz, Mike Patterson