By Joe Aryes, Social Media Manager
Canada Post is requesting people send their mail-in ballots early as a drastic increase in traffic from the provincial election and the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the province’s postal system.
The amount of packages being sent was already dramatically increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with more and more people choosing to shop online. According to Canada Post parcels are up 64 percent from where they were at during this time in the last year. Canada Post is also advising people to send their Christmas presents early.
As of October 6, Elections BC is saying 680,000 vote-by-mail packages have been requested. In the 2017 provincial election only about 11,000 people voted by mail. That’s an over 5000 percent increase from the previous provincial election.
Canada Post is suggesting people send their mail-in ballots by October 17, the day after early voting begins, to ensure all are counted. Only ballots received before or on October 24, the official voting day, are being counted. So, if a ballot is sent on October 24 and isn’t received it will not be counted.
A collaboration between Glacier Media and Research Co. showed that 29 percent of voters in BC plan on casting their votes by mail. At the same time, the study shows only 28 percent of potential voters are planning on going to vote-in-person. This is significantly less than the 58 percent that voted in-person in the 2017 provincial election.
Despite these delays, 90 percent of voters in BC say they are confident that Elections BC will handle the election process competently.
In the 2017 provincial election the winner couldn’t be decided on election night because the vote was so close. The use and high-volume of mail-in ballots basically guarantee that knowing the election’s winner on election night will be impossible.
One concern that could exacerbate this is spoiled ballots. A spoiled ballot could come from the use of blank ballots, which were the ballots mailed out before all candidates were announced. The idea being, if someone wrote in the leader of a provincial party but that leader didn’t run in the specific riding the ballot was cast in then the ballot would be spoiled.
Voting by mail has been promoted as a safe alternative to voting in person. Any voter in BC can request a vote-by-mail package from Elections BC online or by phone through calling +1 (800) 661-8683. Requests must be made by October 17 otherwise no more requests will be taken.