Safety precautions could make it work
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
The entire country was watching New Brunswick as they held a provincial election in early September, making it the first province to hold an election during the coronavirus pandemic. Many people were not sure if it was going to be successful since there was a risk of people getting the coronavirus. In the end, it paid off with advance voting stations allowing voters more time while limiting the amount of people in them. As a result, Premier Blaine Higgs was able to get a majority government.
It is one of a few examples that elections can still happen during the pandemic—South Korea was also able to do a safe presidential election during the early days of COVID-19. This might have inspired Premier John Horgan to call a provincial election last week, earlier than I thought. Unlike the election in New Brunswick, we have some dense urban areas which could risk spreading the virus. The second wave could influence who will win the election.
Depending on if a vaccine will be produced by the beginning of next year, they could have done the election on the original date, fall of 2021. The BC provincial election this year is an election unlike any other with most of the campaign happening online with virtual campaign rallies, social media election ads, and possibly three debates. It will be interesting covering this election. While we cannot engage with the candidates in person, you can still interact with them through social media.
Chief electoral officer Anton Boegman held a press conference where he gave more details about the election precautions which were approved by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and WorkSafe BC. In most voting places, the usual safety precautions are in place including capacity limits, hand sanitizer availability, voting stations being sanitized frequently, lots of space between voters in lineups, and the recommendation of wearing a mask inside. But there are more safety precautions to make sure that voters have less contact with the election officials by mail in voting to prevent the spread of the virus.
You can vote by mail but can also vote inside your car through curbside voting (at-risk voters and those with disabilities). When voting, you can bring your own pencil instead of using the same pencil that everyone uses and you have to seal your ballot yourself—an election official will make sure you are doing it correctly.
While more advance voting days will help with overcrowding in the voting stations, voters cannot change their vote if something happens before election day. On October 24, or possibly a few days after that depending on how many people vote by mail, we are going to find out if Premier John Horgan did the right thing for his party by holding an election during the pandemic.