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

A pair of crashes on Highway 1 between Abbotsford and Chilliwack have snarled traffic in both directions.
Pair of crashes snarl traffic between Abbotsford and Chilliwack

Traffic delays eastbound, large westbound backup

Final numbers won't be known for weeks, but turnout was down across the board in the Fraser Valley and B.C.
Chart: Tyler Olsen
Election turnout down across Fraser Valley and B.C.

Even after thousands of mail-in ballots counted, turnout is likely to fall below 50% in many ridings

NEWS FILE PHOTO
Voters in Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Mission and Langley may head back to polls in 2021

Election of local politicians in BC vote would trigger by-elections in several Fraser Valley cities

Simon Gibson watching the vote count at the Best Western Hotel in Mission. With 98 polls reporting, Gibson leads NDP challenger Alexis by 188 votes. / Kevin Mills photo.
Abbotsford-Mission riding too close to call, mail-in ballots will decide

98 polls reporting: BC Liberal incumbent Simon Gibson leads NDP challenger Pam Alexis by 188 votes

Chelsa Meadus, BC Liberal party candidate for the riding of Maple Ridge-Mission, watches the election results come in with her son Preston, 13, at the Maple Ridge Seniors Activity Centre Saturday evening. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)
NDP’s Bob D’Eith front-runner for Maple Ridge-Mission

D’Eith looking forward to getting back to work as riding’s MLA

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

This Crescent Beach home, located at 12505 22 Ave., was subject of a police search warrant June 18. (Google image)
Civil forfeiture office alleges $2M Surrey home was used to launder cannabis money

Court documents request the home, and $85,000 to be turned over to the government

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Mounties looking for teen boy ‘unlawfully at large’ from Riverview psychiatric hospital

Nolan Godron left the hospital, located at 2721 Lougheed Highway in Coquitlam, without consent on Saturday

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Most Read