B.C. election: Mail-in votes will delay final results, officials warn
VICTORIA -- Election officials in British Columbia are again warning voters that the final results of Saturday’s provincial election won’t be available for several days or even weeks after polls close due to the influx of mail-in ballots during the pandemic.
Elections BC will begin counting mail-in votes 13 days after election day on Saturday to ensure no duplicate votes are cast. Mail-in votes are expected to account for approximately 30 to 35 per cent of all the votes cast.
Officials said Friday they hope to deliver the final results of Saturday's election by Nov. 16.
The mail-in vote count typically takes three days to complete, but this time it may take longer with districts staggering their mail-in counting starts dates to ensure there are enough ballot-screening resources around the province.
Local election officials plan to provide daily updates on the number of vote-by-mail packages counted once counting begins.
Elections BC will hire extra staff at district offices across the province after bringing about 25,000 people on board when voters headed to the polls in 2017.
Boegman says he hopes the final count will start on schedule on Nov. 6 and last three or more days, followed by a six-day window within which judicial recounts could be requested under certain criteria, such as in close races.
Officials had received approximately 478,000 mail-in votes by Friday morning, representing about 66 per cent of the vote-by-mail packages requested.
Those mail-in ballots represent a 7,200 per cent increase in mail-in votes over 2017, according to B.C. chief electoral officer Anton Boegman.
Mail-in votes aside, an additional 681,000 voters took advantage of advance polls to cast ballots ahead of the election. Those advance votes will be tallied on election day.
“Never before have so many voters voted before election day in British Columbia’s electoral history,” said Boegman.
More than 1.2 million British Columbians voted in-person on election day in 2017. That figure is expected to be much lower Saturday due to the popularity of mail-in and advance voting amid the COVID-19 pandemic.