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Sparse voting places during COVID pandemic

Saturday October 24, 2020 | LANGFORD & COLWOOD, BC

by Mary P Brooke, editor | Island Social Trends

Voting Places for the BC provincial election appear to have been attended lightly today.

Island Social Trends visited the locations of several voting places in two key ridings held by the BC NDP heading into this election — Langford-Juan de Fuca (incumbent John Horgan) and Esquimalt-Metchosin (incumbent Mitzi Dean).

Well equipped for COVID-19 safety protocols, but no voters at this moment at the Voting Place at Crystal View Elementary in Colwood, October 24, 2020 [Photo by Mary Brooke | Island Social Trends]

Staff and premises were extremely well equipped in terms of COVID protocols. Signage was a mixture of formal (pre-printed) and last-minute (to help with directional indicators).

Unlike in the past where many voting locations have been schools and church halls, some larger venues were used for this election during the COVID-19 pandemic. On the lower mainland the huge BC Place stadium was used to ensure adequate physical distancing and in/out lanes for voters. In the west shore the Juan de Fuca Rec Centre arena in Colwood was used spaciously.

Schools in the west shore where voting places were set up had to use gymnasium spaces with entry/exit apart from the main school area. That meant some long walks to behind schools in some cases — not the easiest access in terms of physicality or visibility. An unmotivated voter might have been deterred from making the long haul to entries that — overall — were poorly identified.

Some Voting Place signage outside Crystal View School in Colwood on the BC Provincial Election Day on October 24, 2020 [Island Social Trends photo]

Also in the west shore some of the voting places were the Colwood Pentecostal Church on Sooke Road, the Langford Legion on Station Road in Langford, and Forge Church in Langford.

Over 600,000 people voted in the advance polls over seven days (October 15 to 21) and almost 700,000 people received mail-in ballots. That means possibly over 1.3 million people had already voted before General Election Day, mostly as a way to avoid crowds on election day during the pandemic. That appears to have successfully thinned out the robustly safety-fortified voting places today.

Elections results and analysis to come on this Island Social Trends news portal over the days ahead. It will take two to three weeks for Elections BC to produce final results due to the volume of ballots being counted by hand in all 87 electoral district offices all around BC.