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Everything you need to know to vote-by-mail in B.C.’s provincial election

Deadline to register to vote is Saturday, Sept. 26
There's expected to be a record number of people voting by mail during this provincial election. (via Facebook/Elections BC)

With the upcoming provincial election taking place amidst a global pandemic, it is expected that a record number of people will be voting by mail.

The provincial election has been called for Saturday, Oct. 24.

The deadline to register to vote or update your voter registration by phone is 8 p.m. this Saturday, Sept. 26 or online until midnight the same day. 

Registering now will ensure you get a Where to Vote card from Elections BC, and will make the voting process faster when you go to vote, even if you're voting by mail. 

If you don’t register or update your information by phone or online by Saturday, Sept. 26 you can still do so when you vote, though the process will take longer.

When you register to vote you can also request a vote-by-mail package at the same time.

In order to register you need to be 18-years-old or older, a Canadian citizen and a B.C. resident for the past six months as of General Voting Day.

Requesting a mail-in-ballot

If you want to vote by mail you should request a vote-by-mail package sooner rather than later as completed vote-by-mail packages must be received by Elections B.C. before 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24.

  • Requesting a vote-by-mail package online
  • Calling Elections BC at 1-800-661-8683
  • If you would like to pick up your vote-by-mail package in person, contact the closest district electoral office

How to vote-by-mail

All voters can vote by mail. You don’t need a special reason and it’s a great option for people not comfortable voting in person because of the pandemic.

Your vote-by-mail package will have your name and address on it. You cannot use someone else's vote-by-mail package and you can only vote once.

Make sure to follow the instructions at the top of your ballot and you’ll need to give yourself enough time for Canada Post to deliver the vote-by-mail package, for you to complete it and send it in before the election deadline on Saturday, Oct. 24.

If you aren’t registered or if your registration information needs to be updated, the package includes a vote-by-mail ID requirements sheet which you will have to fill out. If this sheet isn’t included then your information is current and no additional materials are required.

You can also request a replacement package if you spoil your ballot, or lose or damage your package. If you request a replacement package, you must destroy the original package and use the replacement to vote when it arrives.

If you requested your vote-by-mail package before candidate nominations are closed, you will also have a write-in ballot.

If your package is missing any of these items or if the information on your voter registration is incorrect you should contact Elections B.C.

How to return your vote-by-mail package

You can return your vote-by-mail package in person at a district electoral office, voting place or participating Service BC locations.

You may also return your package by mail. A postage paid return envelope is provided for voters in Canada. If mailing from outside of Canada, you must provide the necessary postage.

Voters are encouraged to return their package as soon as possible to make sure it is received by the deadline.

If you need more information head over to Elections B.C. where they will be updating the Where to Vote App and the list of official electoral offices and voting places.

Results may be delayed

In the past, only about one per cent of B.C. voters cast their vote by mail. But based on surveys, Elections BC says voting by mail could be as high as 35 to 40 per cent -- about 800,000 voters.

Elections BC officials said Sept. 22 that they have already received 20,000 requests for mail-in ballots. To put that in perspective, only 6,500 people voted by mail in the last election.

Elections BC doesn't even start tallying mail-in ballots until after a 13-day wait period which means a major increase in voting by mail could mean a longer delay in getting a final count.

Elections BC has no idea how many weeks it could take before there is a final count. It typically takes a minimum of 17 days for a final count.

- with files from Nelson Bennett, Business in Vancouver

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