No regular Election Day as Elections BC expects lengthy vote count

·3 min read

If a snowy October Election Day falling on a Saturday wasn’t unique enough, this provincial election will continue to be a strange one with about 70 per cent of votes getting counted after polls close Saturday.

On Election Day, Oct. 24, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. voters can cast their ballots at any general voting office and until 4 p.m. at district electoral offices. Voters can also turn in their mail-in ballots in person at any election office as well (a full list of electoral offices can be found here.)

Following the closure of voting Saturday, ballots for advanced voting and general voting on Election Day will be counted and preliminary results will be reported — roughly 65 to 70 per cent of the vote according to Anton Boegman, Chief Electoral Officer with Elections BC.

“The counting process for this election is the same process that has been used since the Election Act was materially updated in1996 what will be different however is the number and percentage of ballots counted on Election Night,” Boegman told media at a virtual press conference Friday.

Usually, in non-pandemic election, 90 per cent of all ballots are counted on election night, however, Elections BC is expecting roughly 65 to 70 per cent of ballots counted and reported. The remaining 30 to 35 per cent will be counted at the final vote count.

Mail-in votes require additional scrutiny, Boegman said. The final count cannot begin until at least 13 days after voting day and lasts for three days.

“Because of the significant volume of vote by mail, preparations for final count, and the count itself, may take longer than usual. Our commitment is to complete this process as quickly as possible while maintaining the necessary integrity checks,” Boegman said. “When we accurately know the volume of vote by mail and other absentee ballots to be counted we will be able to determine when final count can begin and we will keep the public informed on this process.”

Elections BC had received nearly 480,000 mail-in ballots as of Friday morning, and increase of over 7,200 per cent over the 2017 election, and advanced voting turnout has been high as well.

“Never before have so many voters before Election Day in British Columbia electoral history,” Boegman said.

Polling stations have been equipped with personal protective equipment, plastic barriers and other now-usual preventative pandemic measures.

“Voting will be similar to getting a cup of take out coffee or buying a few groceries at a grocery store in terms of the time spent and in terms of the safety protocols you can find,” Boegman said.

While it is unclear how voters in the Boundary Similkameen riding have gone to the polls, a close race between projected pre-election poll leaders Petra Veintimilla (BC Liberal) and Roly Russell (BC NDP) could have the people of the riding waiting longer than usual to find out who will represent them in Victoria. According to 338Canada, which provides a statistical model of electoral projections based on opinion polls, electoral history of Canadian provinces and demographic data, the Boundary Similkameen riding is listed as a “toss up” with data from an Angus Reid Institute poll earlier in October.

Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle