FILE – A voting package for the 2018 electoral reform referendum. Vote-by-mail packages for the 2020 provincial election will look similar, according to information provided by Elections BC. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

More than 20,000 people have requested to vote by mail just one day after the writ was dropped for the 2020 B.C. election, according to Elections BC statistics from 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday (Sept. 22).

According to Elections BC, the agency can process up to 200,000 mail-in ballots in time for the final count, which is legislated to begin no less than 13 days after Election Day. However, this year Elections BC believes that up to 35 per cent of voters, or around 800,000 people, could opt to mail in their ballot. The final count is due to begin on Nov. 6, with writs of election scheduled to be returned on Nov. 16, although Elections BC said that could take longer if counting is delayed.

That’s up from a typical one per cent, making for a stronger possibility that mail-in ballots can shift the results. In 2017, 61.2 per cent, or nearly two million people, voted in the provincial election. Of those people, about 6,500 people mailed in their ballots.

Speaking at a press conference Tuesday (Sept. 22), Election BC CEO Anton Boegman said the agency did not yet know when final election results would be available after the Oct. 24 vote.

“If there are 800,000 it will take longer, I don’t know how much longer, but it will take longer,” Boegman said, noting that the final count of mail-in and other absentee ballots is legislated and must ensure that no one votes more than once in B.C.

He added that it “is conceivable” that B.C. could be without a result for some amount of time, “give or take” at least about three weeks. While final results are typically not available until about 17 days post-election, Boegman said that 90 per cent of ballots – both advanced and from the day of – are counted on Election Day. With 35 per cent of ballots expected to be cast by mail this year, it’s unclear how long final counts will take and what affect they will have on the results.

Boegman said that if the election had been held in October 2021 as originally scheduled, the agency could have used electronic voter books and tabulation machines to speed up the counting of mail-in ballots.

As final counts are completed in each electoral district, each one will declare its winning candidates in real time.

Elections BC said schools, which made up 44 per cent of Election Day voting location in 2017, will only be used on days when students are not in school; Oct. 17-18 during advanced voting and on the Saturday election day on Oct. 24. Elections BC will pay to sanitize the schools after voting and no students will be present at those locations.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that although public health and Elections BC have run through various scenarios and believe a safe election can be held during the COVID-19 pandemic. She said however that each area in B.C. will be assessed as new COVID-19 cases are reported and will make decisions as needed.

READ MORE: Here’s how voting amid a pandemic will happen in B.C.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

BC politicsBC Votes 2020Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Up to 15 centimetres of snow is forecasted in the Okanagan Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. (File photo)
With snow expected, Penticton reminds locals of road clearing procedures

It can take the city up to 48 hours to clear some locations

Neil Fassina will become the new president of Okanagan College on April 1, 2021. (Contributed)
Okanagan College recruits new president

Current Athabasca University president Neil Fassina to replace Jim Hamilton on April 1, 2021

COVID-19. (Courtesy of CDC).
Interior Health reports 12 additional COVID-19 cases

The total number of cases in the region is now at 644

Cheryl McCafferty hands a driver their breakfast during the United Way’s 2020 Drive Thru Breakfast. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
United Way Drive Thru raises $20K so far

Donations still coming in for the local charity

Brian Shiosaki helps his neighbours by shoveling the sidewalk near his home in Rutland during a large snowfall in Kelowna Tuesday. (Carli Berry/Capital News)
Special weather statement in effect for Okanagan Valley

The Okanagan could see up to 15 centimeters of snow on Friday

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (B.C. Government photo)
Kelowna Francophone school COVID-19 outbreak climbs to 5, mixture of students and staff

Health officer says situation evolving, spoke to possible closure, changes to provincial guidelines

Actor Ryan Reynolds surprised a Shuswap family with a special birthday message to their son who was worried he’d be alone on his 9th birthday on Nov. 24. (Tiffanie Trudell/Facebook)
Ryan Reynolds text almost gives away Shuswap boy’s birthday surprise

Deadpool actor helps remind eight-year-old Canoe resident he’s not alone

Colin James put on a great show at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds as part of the 2019 Vancouver Island MusicFest. But his Okanagan tour for 2020 has been postponed until 2021. (Photo by Terry Farrell)
COVID-19 cancels Corb Lund’s Vernon, Penticton, Trail, Cranbrook concerts

The Contenders, Colin James and Lund postponed until 2021

RCMP detachments across B.C. are now flying Pride flags. (Submitted photo)
Man who spent 4 days injured on floor rescued by Kamloops Mountie

The man is recovering in hospital after being rescued by a police officer conducting a well-being check

Vancouver police reactivated the search for Jordan Naterer Thursday Oct. 22. Photo courtesy of VPD.
Mom of missing Manning Park hiker believes her son is waiting to come home

‘He’s going to come out of a helicopter and say ‘what took you so long?”

A fundraiser for the Falkland Community Church is underway. (Photo submitted)
COVID-19 leaves Falkland Church in a lurch

Annual event/major fundraiser cancelled for first time in 34 years

Environment Minister George Heyman, Premier John Horgan and Energy Minister Michelle Mungall announce that B.C. Hydro is proceeding with construction of the Site C dam, Dec. 11, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Site C actions, costs won’t be known until after B.C. election, Horgan says

Peace River diverted for construction of reinforced dam base

Five people with alleged ties to the Red Scorpion Gang are facing numerous charges. (Kelowna RCMP)
5 men linked to Red Scorpion gang charged with gun, drug offences in Kelowna

Police seized a machine gun as well as 5.5 kilograms of fentanyl and carfentanil

Most Read