Referendum deadline has been extended

Photo via Comox Valley Record

Cast your vote sooner rather than later

By Katie Czenczek, News Editor


Elections BC urges British Columbians to vote as soon as they can in the referendum.

On November 23, Elections BC announced that they have extended the voting period to December 7 at 4:30 pm. The extension is meant to counter the Canada Post strike’s impact on voter turnout.

However, on Saturday the federal government passed Bill C-89, which orders postal workers back to work. This past weekend the Senate ironed out the details of the bill, which—if given royal assent—will be official on Monday. Due to postal services being considered an “essential service,” the federal government was able to pass the bill, though the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) said that they will fight it if the bill makes it through Senate.

CUPW went on a series of rotating strikes beginning mid-October. The strike began when negotiators did not reach a new agreement on worker wages, hours, and benefits before the union’s strike deadline. Urban postal workers make more money than their rural counterparts and the union wanted this to be addressed in the new contract with the federal government. At the start of the protests, Victoria was the first British Columbian city to be affected by the strike. Currently, it is mainly rural British Columbian towns that are being impacted.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh opposed the federal government’s passed bill while Conservative deputy leader Lisa Raitt said that her party is all for the bill.

Chief Electoral Officer Anton Boegman said in a press release sent out by Elections BC that Canada Post and Elections BC were in contact while they made their decision.

“We have worked closely with Canada Post to understand the full impact of rotating strikes on the referendum process,” he said. “Rotating strikes have impacted accessibility. As a result, we have extended the deadline to ensure that voters are not prevented from participating through no fault of their own.”

People are no longer able to request voter packages, as the deadline to request a package remained November 23—though people can still request a replacement for a lost, damaged, or unreceived requested ballot up until 4:30 pm on December 7.

So far, during the BC referendum to decide whether or not the province sticks with first-past-the-post or moves to a proportional representation voting system, there has been a low voter turnout. As of November 16, only 18 percent of voting ballots had been returned to Elections BC.

It’s important to note that this extension only means that Elections BC will still be open to receiving ballots by December 7—meaning that if you’re mailing in your ballot, you must mail it with enough time to spare for it to make it to a Referendum Service Office. If you’re worried whether or not it will arrive on time, you can also deliver it in person to one of these offices to be certain that they’ve received your ballot.

Whether or not CUPW returns to work, it will still be wise to return the ballots as soon as possible because Canada Post will have to make up for the mail that has yet to be sent since October. This postal pile-up is especially pressing as we approach Christmas.