A voting package for the 2018 electoral reform referendum. Vote-by-mail packages for the 2020 provincial election will look similar, according to information provided by Elections BC. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)

Vancouver Island may not know final election results on Saturday night

Uncertainty stems from high number of mail-in ballots

A spokesperson for Elections BC said it remains to be seen whether British Columbians will know on Oct. 24 who has won the provincial election.

“Certainly, it is possible that a complete picture of the result won’t be available until the mail-in ballots are counted, which will be later,” said Andrew Watson, director of communications for Elections BC.

RELATED: Vancouver Islanders lead the province in mail-in ballot requests

RELATED: Vancouver Island votes: Campaigning through a pandemic

Watson said earlier that election officials had historically counted mail-in ballots some 13 days after the general election day following a screening period, with the actual counting taking two to three days.

“Of course, there are many, many, many more this time, so those time periods may be extended,” said Watson. “But certainly, we will be trying to do that part of the process as fast as we can, while still maintaining the integrity of the process, and making sure that all of the legislative requirements are met.”

He said the province with 3.4 million registered voters has received more than 700,000 requests for mail-in ballots as of early this weekend, compared to roughly 6,500 such requests during the 2017 campaign.

Other factors also come into play, said Watson. They include turnout on advance voting day, as well as general election day.

Traditionally, preliminary results on election night reflect 90 per cent of ballots cast, he said. “With over 700,000 mail-in ballots, that portion will be less. So it’s certainly possible that the final outcome won’t be clear until the mail-in ballots are counted.”

Next year’s legislative changes will also include a modernized network that would record ballots cast at polling stations in real time. Names will no longer be crossed off a paper list, and the information will be immediately accessible to Elections BC, Watson said.

“It would have been in place for 2021, but not now,” he said. “That will be a focus for us after the election.”

With a file from Canadian Press. For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.


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