Why B.C. election results may not be known for weeks after voting day | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Why B.C. election results may not be known for weeks after voting day

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October 03, 2020 - 6:00 AM

COVID-19 has disrupted everything, and that will include the B.C. provincial election.

As of Oct. 1, 474,000 voters have requested mail-in ballots for the election and while many may find it more convenient and safer than voting lines, it's shaping up to change how and when results are known.

“That’s up significantly over the 2017 election,” Andrew Watson, communications director for Elections B.C. told iNFOnews.ca in what was quite an understatement.

In the last election, only about 11,000 mail-in ballots were requested and 6,500 were actually cast.

That’s out of a total of just under two million votes in the 2017 election.

While only about 50 per cent of mail-in ballots were actually used in the last election, that may be different this time around because of COVID-19.

People can still request the ballots online up to Oct. 17 and pick them up at district electoral offices up until 4 p.m. on voting day.

But none of them will be counted when polls close Oct. 24.

“It’s likely that the full picture, in terms of the outcome of the election, won’t be immediately known on election night,” Watson said.

Normally, mail-in and absentee ballots are not counted until 13 days after the election since they have to be sent to their home ridings and checked against voters lists to make sure there’s no multiple voting, that the voter is properly registered and all rules are followed.

In a normal year, it can take another two or three days to count those ballots.

But, with potentially half a million or more mail-in ballots to deal with, that whole process may take longer this year.

Then there are the absentee ballots that are often cast by people who vote at polling stations that aren’t in their home ridings.

In 2017 there were 190,000 of those.

There’s no way of telling, at this point, if there will be similar numbers this year but, if there is, there’s a potential of close to half the ballots not being counted until at least two weeks after the election.

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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