ELECTION 2020: Here’s what you need to know about mail-in voting | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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ELECTION 2020: Here’s what you need to know about mail-in voting

October 05, 2020 - 8:00 AM

An unprecedented 474,000 B.C. residents have already asked for mail-in ballots for the Oct. 24 provincial election.

Sparked by concerns over COVID-19, it will be a new experience for most residents. In the 2017 election, only 11,000 mail-in ballots were requested and 6,500 cast by mail.

Some people received their ballots in the mail even before nominations officially closed at 1 p.m. today, Oct. 2.

That means they got a blank ballot on which they need to print either the name of the candidate or the party. They can write both and the ballots will still be valid if there are minor spelling mistakes, as long as the choice is clear, Andrew Watson, communications director for Elections B.C. told iNFOnews.ca.

But Watson stressed, people can only write in the names of the candidates running in their ridings and not party leaders directly unless, of course, they live in those ridings where those candidates are running.

Those requesting ballots after the close of nominations will get ballots with candidate names, party affiliations and a circle in which to make their mark.

Mail-in ballots can be requested here. Elections B.C. will close its online portal for requesting mail-in ballots on Oct. 17 but they can be picked up at district electoral offices up until 4 p.m., Oct. 24, and dropped off back at those offices, some Service B.C. offices or at polling stations.

Oct. 17 is also recommended as the final day to mail completed ballots, using the stamped and addressed envelope included with the mail-in package.

The mail-in ballots can also be dropped off at their district electoral office (there is one in each riding), at their voting place either during advance polls or on Election Day, or at any Service B.C. office.

In order to vote by mail residents need to provide name, date of birth, address and one of either their B.C. Driver's Licence or B.C. Identification Card numbers or the last six digits of either their Social Insurance Number or Personal Health Number.

For those who are willing to risk line-ups at the voting booths on Election Day, B.C. Elections’ said there will be some changes, including workers wearing masks or face visors, limits to the number of people allowed in the building at any one time and strict safe distancing rules.

Workers will look at identification cards but not touch them and voters will be asked to verbally declare their eligibility to vote rather than signing.

Voters can wear face masks and won’t be asked to remove them.

At the voting booth, people will be asked to sanitize their hands before and after marking their ballots and will be able to use their own pens or pencils if they so choose.

Advance polls will be held from Oct. 15 to Oct. 21, or people can vote at district electoral offices up until 4 p.m. on Oct. 24.

For people with disabilities or who may be “at risk,” there are options such as curbside voting, assisted telephone voting and site based voting. For more information on these options, go here.

For more information on the election process, go to the Elections B.C. website here or phone 1-800-661-8683.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 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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