Tuesday October 13, 2020 | ISLAND & MAINLAND, BC [Updated 5:30 pm]
by Mary Brooke, editor | Island Social Trends
Advance voting for the 2020 Provincial General Election begins this Thursday, October 15 and runs for seven consecutive days until Wednesday, October 21.
The advance voting period is seven days this election, up from six in the last provincial election in 2017. An extra day has been added to give voters more opportunities to vote, and to help reduce numbers in voting places as a pandemic response measure. Voters should note that some voting places won’t be open on every advance voting day. Advance voting places will be available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time on the days they are open.
Providing safe in-person voting opportunities has been a key focus for Elections BC, says the non-partisan agency. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Elections BC has worked with the Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, and WorkSafeBC to develop safe voting plans.
Voters voting in person will see many protective measures including:
- Physical distancing
- Voting place capacity limits
- Election officials wearing personal protective equipment including face masks and visors
- Protective barriers at voting stations
- Hand sanitizing stations at the entry and exit of voting places
- Frequent cleaning of voting booths and high-touch surfaces
- Election officials trained on safe workplace guidelines and pandemic safety protocols
Voting places may have changed since the last election:
Elections BC has reviewed all of the voting places being used to ensure they can support physical distancing and the pandemic safety protocols that will be in place at every location.
To find voting places near them and the dates they are open, voters can:
- Check their Where to Vote card. Elections BC began mailing Where to Vote cards to registered voters last week.
- Visit the Elections BC website at wheretovote.elections.bc.ca
- Call Elections BC at 1-800-661-8683.
Important reminders for voters:
- How to vote safely during COVID-19
- Identification required to vote
- Services for at-risk voters and voters with disabilities
Voters with questions about where, when, or how to vote are encouraged to contact Elections BC at 1-800-661-8683.
Voting by mail:
Voters who requested mail-in ballots are advised by Elections BC to mail their completed ballots by this Saturday, October 17, to allow adequate time for the packages to reach Elections BC ahead of the 4 pm October 24, 2020 deadline.
Elections BC says that as of today October 13, there have been 680,000 ballots requested. In the previous election only 6,500 were requested, so that’s over 100 times more interest for voting away from a voting station.
The high rate of requests for mail-in ballots is due to people’s concern about exposure to the COVID-19 virus during the ongoing pandemic.
Ballots issued before October 2 show no candidate names:
Ballots issued before October 2 had no candidate names listed (nominations had not closed yet), so to use those ballots the voter needs to write in the name of the candidate or the party.
When ballots are sent to the voter they are customized with the voter’s name, address and riding. You need to fill in your birthdate and sign the ballot envelope.
Eager mail-in voters in some ridings:
In a few ridings there is a higher number of requests than in others. Generally speaking, in addition to the pandemic-reason for mail-in ballot requests, these high request tallies indicate attentive voters in high-profile or high-contest ridings.
The highest mail-in ballot request counts are seen (as of October 12) in: Victoria-Beacon Hill (17, 287) where outgoing Finance Minister Carole James has held the seat for several terms; Saanich North and the Islands (15,197) where BC Green incumbent Adam Olsen is running; Oak Bay-Gordon Head (14,978) where Murray Rankin is the high-profile BC NDP candidate and where Andrew Weaver (former Green MLA) is not seeking re-election; Vancouver-Fairview (14,093); Parksville-Qualicum (13,478); Saanich South (13,411) where BC NDP incumbent Lana Popham who has served as agriculture minister is running; Vancouver-False Creek (12,207); Victoria-Swan Lake (12,182) where Rob Fleming (education minister up til the writ dropped) is the BC NDP incumbent; Courtenay-Comox (11,654) where BC NDP candidate Ronna Rae Leonard won by a close margin in 2017; Surrey South (11,826); Vancouver-Point Grey (11,470) where BC NDP incumbent David Eby (served as attorney general) is running; Langford-Juan de Fuca (11,391) where the incumbent BC NDP candidate is leader (and technically premier until a new government is formed) John Horgan; New Westminster (11,139) which is an NDP stronghold that has gone to the NDP in 15 of the last 16 elections but where Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy is not seeking re-election; and Cowichan Valley (10,165) which is home to BC Green Leader Sonia Furstenau.
If you prefer to vote in person after all:
If you received a mail-in ballot but you’ve decided to vote in person after all, Elections BC says you are to destroy your vote-by-mail package and not return it to Elections BC.