Results from BC mail-in voting could be 13 or more days after election

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WatchThere are still ways to get your mail-in ballot in after cut-off. But the results could take up to two weeks or longer, putting some ridings on mail heavy Vancouver Island in limbo. Julian Kolsut has this story.

Mail-in ballots in B.C. exploded in popularity due to the pandemic, but those who are still hanging on to them could waste their vote if they mail them in.

The deadline to send them back through the mailbox was this weekend, but there are still ways to get it in.

“There is lots of ways to return your ballot,” said Andrew Watson, director of communications with Elections B.C.

“You can do it in person at a number of locations still. Any district electoral office in the province, any voting place during voting hours. Advanced voting is on today and tomorrow. And election day on the 24th and even at some service B.C. centres.”

The ballots must be received by Saturday at 8 p.m. More details on submitting voting packages can be found on the Elections BC website here.

But the massive increase in mail-in ballots, compared to around 6,500 that were mailed in the last election, could mean delays in results.

As of 11:59 p.m. PDT on October 19, 2020, Elections BC has received an estimated 304,500 returned vote-by-mail packages. This represents approximately 42 per cent of packages issued to date. An estimated 725,000 registered voters have requested a vote-by-mail package.

Packages have to head to elections B.C. then get sent to district offices to get screened to confirm the vote  and to make sure no one voted twice.

“Usually that period is 13 days,” said Watson.

“That is needed for that screening process to occur and the absentee counting process usually takes 13 days after that. Because of the significant increase, it is possible those time periods could be extended. ”

Extra resources will help sort through the ballots. Experts say the delay for many across the province shouldn’t be a big problem but some ridings could be stuck waiting.

“In a lot of those swing ridings, those suburban Vancouver ridings, some of those ridings around the province that are close, is where those mail-in ballots will confirm the winner,” said Camosun College political science instructor Daniel Reeve.

The Island also leads in mail packages. Victoria-Beacon Hill has requested 18,363 followed by Saanich North and the Islands with 16,136.  Oak Bay-Gordon Head requested 15,918 — all these ridings have over 30 per cent of registered voters using the packages.

“The riding of Oak Bay-Gordon Head I think that will be a close race,” said Reeve.

“But some of the other NDP stronghold ridings like Horgan’s riding, it won’t be a factor.”

Elections BC says they will not be releasing numbers or results of mail-in ballots right after polls closed for specific ridings.

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