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Unprecedented Number of Mail-in Ballots to Delay Final Election Results

Nearly three-quarters of a million people plan to vote by mail during this provincial election.

That unprecedented volume of mail-in ballots will delay the final results by about two weeks, or more.

Andrew Watson of Elections BC says that under the present system the mail-in ballots are usually counted 13 days later.

“On election night we count ballots from advance voting, which is on right now, and then the ballots from election day, as well, and usually that’s about 90-per cent of the ballots in an election.”

He says the final count is when the rest of the ballots are tallied.

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“The reason for that gap between election day and final count is that all of the absentee ballots, including mail-in ballots, are screened before being accepting for counting.”

He says Elections BC must ensure that multiple voting hasn’t occurred and that the voter meets all of the legislative requirements, such as being eligible to vote and registered to vote.

Watson says the screening process is “a really important part of the integrity of our election process.”

He says the final count typically takes 2 or 3 days in a normal election, but the counting timeline could be longer for this election given the significant volume of mail-in ballots.

“We certainly we want to complete that count as fast as possible and we’re adding resources.”

Watson says Elections BC did public opinion research during the spring as it prepared for the possibility of an election this year.

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That research revealed that during the COVID-19 pandemic many people would be interested in an alternative to voting in person, which allowed Elections BC to be prepared for the significant number of requests for mail-in ballots.

Legislative changes have been approved that will allow for faster counting of mail-in ballots, but those changes will not come into effect until next year.

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