B.C. comes up with ways to vote safely in a pandemic | Kelowna News | iNFOnews

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B.C. comes up with ways to vote safely in a pandemic

September 21, 2020 - 4:41 PM
British Columbians have been thrust into an election during a pandemic, which means some tried and true voting practices will have to be tweaked.
 
“Our main focus is ensuring a safe and accessible voting process during the pandemic,” chief electoral officer Anton Boegman said in a press release. “We have been working with Dr. Bonnie Henry’s office to develop our safe voting plans and make sure that voters don’t have to choose between safeguarding their health and exercising their right to vote. All voters have the option of voting in person with protective measures in place, or voting by mail."
 
Elections B.C. sent out a list of how things will be different and increased options for casting a ballot. To find out how it will go, read the points below.

Voting in person

Voting in person will be available during the advance voting period from Thursday, Oct. 15 to Wednesday, Oct. 21, and on Election Day, Saturday, Oct. 24.

Advance voting places will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. There will be seven days of advance voting, up from six in 2017. The additional advance voting day has been added to give voters more options and help reduce numbers in voting places. The advance voting period includes two weekend days, Saturday, Oct. 17, and Sunday, Oct. 18.

Voting places will be open on Election Day, Saturday, Oct. 24, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Voting places and the dates they are open are being confirmed and will be available on Elections B.C.’s website as soon as possible. Voting safely and COVID-19

Pandemic voting protocols have been developed in consultation with the Office of the Provincial Health Officer. Safe voting practices for voting places are available at elections.bc.ca/safevoting and will include physical distancing, capacity limits, election officials wearing personal protective equipment (such as masks and face-visors), protective barriers, hand sanitizing stations, frequent cleaning of voting stations and frequently touched surfaces.

Voters will not be asked to remove their mask to vote but they will be asked to sanitize their hands before and after voting. Also, voters will make a verbal declaration of their eligibility to vote instead of signing a voting book and can bring their own pen or pencil to mark their ballot.

 
Voting by mail

Voters don’t need a special reason to vote by mail. It’s an option for all eligible voters, and a good option for voters who are not comfortable voting in person because of the pandemic.

To vote by mail, voters need to request a voting package. Voting packages can be requested now on the Elections B.C. website at elections.bc.ca/ovr or by phone at 1-800-661-8683. The vote-by-mail package will be mailed to the voter with instructions on how to complete it and return it to Elections B.C.
 
Voter registration

Voters can register or update their information online at elections.bc.ca/ovr, or by calling 1-800-661-8683. Voter registration by phone closes at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26. Voter registration online closes at 11:59:59 p.m. on Saturday, Sep. 26.

Eligible voters can still register or update their voter registration when they vote, but it will make the voting process longer for them. Elections B.C. encourages voters to make sure their information is up to date now so they can vote faster, help reduce lineups at voting places and support physical distancing.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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