Nearly 500,000 mail-in ballots requested amid pandemic election

Oct 4 2020, 11:39 am

Elections BC says that 494,000 people have requested mail-in ballots for the October 24 provincial election.

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Elections BC said that it anticipated a much higher number of mail-in ballots to be cast, as British Columbians attempt to avoid in-person voting stations.

As much as 35% of votes could come from mail-in ballots, a significant jump from the 1% of total votes that mail-in ballots represent.

With the jump in requests for vote-by-mail packages, Elections BC has asked mail-in voters to get their requests in as soon as possible — ideally by mid-October.

“We recommend that you request a vote-by-mail package by October 17,” Elections BC said in late September. “After this date, voters will not be able to request a vote-by-mail package online or through our Contact Centre. ”

The non-partisan office says that mail-in ballots are great options for those who aren’t comfortable voting in person, adding that anyone can vote by mail and no special reason is needed.

But how exactly does the mail-in-voting process work, and what’s the timeline around it? Here’s a full breakdown from Elections BC.

Requesting a mail-in ballot

Contact Elections BC to request a vote-by-mail package as soon as possible. Your package will be mailed to you. You can ask for one by:

  • Requesting a vote-by-mail package online.
  • Calling Elections BC at 1-800-661-8683.
  • If you would like to pick up your vote-by-mail package in person, contact the closest district electoral office.

Completing a mail-in ballot

Before you begin, read all the instructions in full. Ensure you are eligible to vote and your Certification Envelope B has your name on it. If it doesn’t, contact Elections BC. If you need to register to vote or update your information, read the voter registration section.

If you requested your vote-by-mail package before candidate nominations closed, you will have a write-in ballot. If you requested your vote-by-mail package after candidate nominations closed, you will have an ordinary ballot.

  • Follow the instructions at the top of your ballot. Print the name of the candidate or political party of your choice clearly in the white box on the ballot. Do not write anything else on your ballot.
  • Mark your ballot with an O or a P in the circle next to the candidate of your choice. Do not write anything else on your ballot.
  • Refold your ballot and put it in Secrecy Sleeve A.
  • Put Secrecy Sleeve A with your marked ballot in it into Certification Envelope B.
  • Seal Certification Envelope B.
  • If you make a mistake or have questions about how to mark your ballot, call Elections BC at 1-800-661-8683.

Returning your mail-in ballot

You can return your vote-by-mail package in person at a district electoral office, voting place, or participating Service BC location. Check Election BC’s Where to Vote app for a list of district electoral offices and voting places.

Vote-by-mail packages cannot be dropped off at Service BC locations in Surrey, Vancouver, Burnaby or Masset. Voters in these areas wishing to return their package in person should return it at a district electoral office or voting place.

You may also return your package by mail. A postage paid return envelope is provided for voters in Canada.

Completed vote-by-mail packages must be received by Elections BC before 8 pm PST on election day – Saturday, October 24 – and ballots cannot be mailed day-of.

With files from Eric Zimmer

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