ProRep referendum ballots half counted but Elections BC hoping to have results before Christmas


WATCH: Elections BC received over 1.3 million voting packages in the ProRep referendum, and now the race is on to get them all counted before Christmas. But as Luisa Alvarez shows us its a thorough, time-consuming process which means results may not come out until early next year. 

Workers at election B.C.’s counting facility are working hard at each stage of the process. But with over 1.3 million packages to sift through they have their work cut out for them and not all of the ballots will count.

Communications director for Election B.C. Andrew Watson says there are steps each voting package needs to go through to ensure that the voting legislature is met.

“A voter needs to sign the certification envelope to state they are eligible to vote in the referendum and that they only voted once and they also need to provide their birth date as their shared secret to help identify the voter,” said Watson.

Right off the bat workers separate the packages that don’t meet the requirements and stop them from going any further in the process.

The eligible packages then have the certification envelope extracted. Next, the ballots are moved to another room where they are removed from the secrecy sleeve.

This is also the second checkpoint where ballots can be deemed ineligible.

“For example, if the voter didn’t fill in either circle in question one, didn’t mark first past the post or proportional representation we wouldn’t be able to mark a vote for that,” said Watson.

In the counting facility there are boxes clearly marked ‘not accepted’ filled with hundreds of envelopes have been rejected but Elections BC will not release how many didn’t count until after the referendum results.

But the last time B.C had a provincial referendum in 2011, two per cent of the ballots didn’t count, and Watson says they expect close to the same amount.

The final step in the counting process is here where ballots are tabulated and the voting data transferred onto a secure server.

“Once we are finished tabulating all of the ballots the results will be extracted and reported to the public but before that time we don’t have access to that information,” said Watson.

Each step is time-consuming and as of right now only about half of the ballots have been fully processed.

But Elections BC is still hoping the results could be ready before Christmas.

“Right now we are just focusing on working through the process as quickly as we can,” said Watson.

He admits though, that the more likely scenario is for the result to be made public by early next year.

Luisa AlvarezLuisa Alvarez

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