An inside look at how Elections BC is processing the mail-in referendum ballots


WATCH: There’s just nine days to go before the deadline for Elections BC to receive all the proportional representation ballots. It’s the final stretch so, how is it all going and whats the process of a mail-in ballot? We went inside Elections BC to find out. Luisa Alvarez takes a look. 

As of early Thursday morning Elections BC received 810,000 packages or about 25 per cent of the ballots.

“If you look at how this compares to other mail in events it’s mirroring the same trajectory and that is that a large percentage of the returns occur in the last two weeks,” said B.C.’s Chief Electoral Officer Anton Boegman.

According to a Research Co. poll, first-past-the-post and proportional representation (the two electoral options on the ballot) are neck and neck each, currently at 40 per cent. Of the 800 people surveyed 15 per cent were undecided and five per cent said they will not vote.

Leslie Bolt with Vote PR BC said every single vote counts.

“If they want change then they should vote for proportional representation and for a new way of voting,” said Bolt.

Leader of the opposition Andrew Wilkinson, who has been campaigning for the “Vote No” side, said there is just too much uncertainty.

“If you vote for the way the NDP and the Greens are thinking you should, we have no idea what we are getting because they refuse to explain what it actually means,” said Wilkinson.

Both sides are urging anyone that hasn’t yet sent in their ballots to send it in by this coming Friday to be safe because they have to be in the possession of Elections BC by 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 30 to count.

And for those who want to vote but still don’t have a voting package, the deadline to request one is Friday, Nov. 23 at midnight.

Voters also have the option to take completed ballots to referendum centres or directly to Elections BC.

In the meantime, Elections BC employees are working diligently at different facilities in Greater Victoria to get each received package processed.

“We receive them, we open them up, we extract the certification envelope. Its a completely manual process,” said Boegman.

At a separate facility, the certification envelope is scanned and the data is entered into the system to help screen and determine each envelopes eligibility.

“The regulation requires that the voter sign the envelope and that they provide their date of birth and that the date of birth matches our records for the same voter,” said Jill Lawrence with Elections BC.

Once they identify the envelopes that are accepted for the count, the ballot is taken out of the certification envelope.

The accepted ballots are then counted with a high-speed tabulator before being sent to another facility for the official count on Dec. 1.

When the results of the referendum will be announced depends on voter turnout but Boegman said they are aiming to have those results before Christmas Day.

Luisa AlvarezLuisa Alvarez

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