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Increase in mail-in ballots could delay BC election results by weeks

3 weeks for election results?

UPDATED: 11:10 a.m.

The final results of British Columbia's 42nd provincial election may not be known for more than three weeks after election day.

Monday, Premier John Horgan announced the election will occur on Oct. 24, about a year earlier than mandated.

The election will be one of the more unique elections B.C. has ever seen, and a number of new measures will be in place to help keep voters safe.

Tuesday morning, B.C.'s chief electoral officer Anton Boegman said voting locations will have physical distancing measures in place along with sanitizer on site and capacity limits. Election officials will wear personal protective equipment and have barriers set up, while the number of early voting days will be increased to keep line-up sizes down.

“Most voters will likely only spend minutes inside a voting place,” Boegman said. “Casting your vote will be like getting a take-out coffee, or picking up milk and eggs at the grocery store.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many more British Columbians are expected to vote by mail, while those forced to self isolate due to the virus may be able to vote by telephone.

Boegman said upwards of 40 per cent of eligible voters have expressed interest in voting by mail, and in the past 24 hours, 20,000 people have made requests for vote-by-mail ballots. Upwards of 800,000 voters could vote by mail this election.

In past elections, about 90 per cent of votes are counted on election night, resulting in the announcement of projected winners in most ridings. Mail-in ballots and other absentee ballots are required to take a minimum of 17 days to count, to ensure the “integrity” of the ballots. With substantially more mail-in ballots this election, Boegman says the final results may not be known for about three weeks after election night, although he's unsure of an exact timeline. 

Telephone voting is also available for those who have some type of disability that would prevent them from voting independently. Boegman said this option may also be used by those who are required to self isolate due to COVID-19 infection, but it's not available to the general public. Those interested can contact Elections BC for guidance.

Boegman said the pandemic may also make it tougher for Elections BC to find adequate staffing at voting locations, which is why they have switched voting day to a Saturday.

As COVID-19 numbers continue to rise across the province, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry would not speculate on whether it would be safer to hold the election next spring, or next fall. She said she has a “high-degree of confidence” that the election can be held safely this October using the measures that have been put in place.


ORIGINAL: 8:45 a.m.

Provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C.'s chief electoral officer Anton Boegman will hold a joint press conference Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. to outline plans for a safe 2020 provincial election in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The people of British Columbia will be heading to the polls on October 24, 2020, NDP leader John Horgan announced on Monday.
 
CTV News Vancouver is reporting This morning the plan for a safe election will be unveiled, including plans for physical distancing at polling places.

We know that electoral officials will be required to wear masks and other personal protective equipment and polling stations will be monitored for capacity limits.

Voters will be asked affirm their voting status verbally and mail-in and advanced voting will be encouraged to mitigate long line-ups at polling stations.

-with files from CTV News Vancouver



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