Why BC's election night results may not be final

Oct 19 2020, 9:34 am

While voting day in BC is this Saturday, October 24, officials with Elections BC are advising the public that the final voter results will likely not be available on election night.

According to Elections BC spokesperson Melanie Hull, this largely has to do with the number of mail-in ballots that have been requested this year.

“We have received an unprecedented number of requests for vote-by-mail packages this election,” Hull told Daily Hive.

She noted that so far, Elections BC has received about 725,000 requests for packages and had an estimated 235,800 packages returned. For reference, in the 2017 provincial election there were a total of 6,517 returned vote-by-mail packages.

And beyond just the mailing back-and-forth, there are certain procedures in place to ensure election integrity, but which can also result in a delayed final tally.

“Mail-in ballots are counted at final count, which usually takes place 13 days after Election Day,” Hull explained. “After election night, mail-in ballots are sent to the voter’s electoral district of residence, where they undergo screening before being accepted for counting. The screening process is vital for election integrity.”

Vote-by-mail packages are checked to make sure that the voter who cast the ballot is eligible to vote and that they only voted once.

“This screening cannot happen until after Election Day, to make sure that a voter who has voted at advance voting or on Election Day cannot also vote by mail,” said Hull.

And this year, given the large volume of mail-in ballots, “it is possible that the 13-day period between election night and final count will be extended, and that the outcome of the election will not be clear on election night,” said Hull.

She noted that Elections BC will be providing updates “throughout the process to keep the public informed about these timelines.”

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