How do I vote in B.C.'s municipal elections? Here's everything you need to know

·3 min read
Voters arrive at the Roundhouse Community Centre polling location in Vancouver during the 2018 local elections. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC - image credit)
Voters arrive at the Roundhouse Community Centre polling location in Vancouver during the 2018 local elections. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC - image credit)

British Columbians are heading to the polls in less than a month to choose their mayor, councillors and school board trustees for the next four years.

General local elections in the province are held on the third Saturday of October and, this year, that date is Oct. 15. For people with plans that weekend, advanced voting is also available.

How you vote helps determine who will be the decision-makers for your municipality, regional district or Islands Trust — but there can be a lot of information to sift through during an election period.

Here's your one-stop guide to getting out to the polls this year.

Who can vote?

Canadian citizens over the age of 18 who have been a resident of B.C. for at least six months immediately before they registered to vote are eligible. If you are unsure about your eligibility, check the provincial voter's guide.

Tina Lovgreen/CBC
Tina Lovgreen/CBC

What ID should I bring?

If your name is not on the voter list in your electoral area, you need to bring two pieces of identification proving who you are and where you live — and one of those must have your signature.

A driver's licence, social insurance card, BCID card, citizenship card and ICBC insurance papers will all be accepted. If the identification provided does not have an address on it, residents can make a solemn declaration about where they live.

How can I vote?

Either go to the polls on Oct. 15, vote on an advanced voting day, or mail in your ballot if it is permitted in your electoral area.

Mail-in ballots are an option in most larger municipalities, but check your jurisdiction's individual website for more details.

Every electoral area has to provide an advanced voting day between Oct. 5 and Oct. 15. You can check your jurisdiction's website to find out when those are available.


What about accessibility?

Election officials are trained to help people access polling stations and services are available to help voters with disabilities or underlying health conditions.

You can choose to get help from an assigned election worker. All election workers take an oath to keep your vote a secret. You can also bring someone you know to the voting place and that person will have to take an oath of secrecy.

Tina Lovgreen/CBC
Tina Lovgreen/CBC

Voting places are usually accessible for people who use wheelchairs, mobility scooters, strollers and canes. Voters who aren't able to enter a voting place can vote outside the building at the curb or in the parking lot.

Locations are also often equipped with a universal washroom and have chairs available and a priority line for older people, people with disabilities, and those who are immunocompromised, pregnant or have children with them, along with people who require low stimulation (because of, for example, mental health, anxiety, and developmental or cognitive disabilities).

Who are the candidates?

Here is a link to all of the candidates running across the province grouped regionally and broken down by jurisdiction.

There are over 3,000 people who have thrown their hat in the ring for an elected role this October. Here is a chart-based look at who is running and how it compares over time.

Here are more detailed looks at the candidates for Vancouver mayor and councilSurrey mayor and council and Kelowna mayor and council.

Almost 40 mayor candidates have already won by acclamation because they ran unopposed. You can find out who they are here.