Here's how COVID-19 is affecting B.C.'s provincial election
VICTORIA -- New Brunswick has just done it and now British Columbia will be the next province to head to the polls during a pandemic. The question is, what will that mean for campaigning and voting during a provincial election?
“I think the campaign will look quite a bit different,” said Hamish Telford, a political scientist with the University of the Fraser Valley.
“Of course, the leaders will go out on tour as they normally do, with staged photo-ops, but there won’t be any campaign rallies,” he said. “There won’t be big crowds at these photo-ops.”
On the local level, there’s a good chance your doorbell will never ring with a political hopeful standing at your door vying for your vote.
“They’re going to be relying on a lot of telephone campaigning and social media campaigning,” said Telford.
The political scientist also foresees no “all candidate debates” in local ridings this election.
“These are unprecedented times and uncertainty is around every corner,” said Premier John Horgan when he announced the election Monday.
The premier acknowledged that this will be a provincial election unlike any other that B.C. has ever seen. But he says the safely of voters has been considered.
“Dr. Henry and Elections BC have worked very hard to make sure British Columbians will not be putting themselves at risk,” said Horgan. “Just as we are going to work and just as we’ve been going shopping for groceries, we can vote safely.”
Concerns have been raised that many seniors are not internet savvy and get most of their election information from debates or on their doorsteps.
“The good news is that many seniors have landlines,” said Horgan. “Being able to contact those who are not adept at the internet is going to be the easiest part of the campaign, quite frankly.”
The premier went on to say there will be new voting opportunities through advanced voting and mail-in ballots.
“It’s to ensure that people can participate in our democratic process from the comfort of their own home,” said Horgan.
B.C.’s top doctor said Monday that residents exercising their democratic right to vote will be safe come election day.
“The guidelines that we’ve come up with include how political parties and their candidates need to keep themselves, their staff, volunteers and their communities safe during the campaign,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s chief medical health officer.
“We’ve also outlined how elections processes need to occur, to ensure that everybody in the province remains safe and these can be handled safely,” she said.
Voters will head to the polls on Oct. 24. With a pandemic election on the horizon, expect to see some new campaigning tricks and a push from politicians for you to use those early voting stations.