9 of top 10 ridings where mail-in ballots issued are in B.C.: Elections Canada

It appears B.C. voters in particular are interested in options other than standing in line on Election Day.

Four days of advance voting begin Friday in the federal election, and Elections Canada is expecting a good turnout for the early polls during this pandemic vote.

There has already been a significant jump in the number of mail-in ballots as well, and demand appears to be especially strong in B.C.

Bonnie St. Denis is among the B.C. voters who have already cast their ballots through the mail-in method, after learning about the option for the federal election online.

“I basically just had to drop it off in the mailbox,” she said, and added she also went the same route for last year’s provincial election. “Then you don’t have to worry about if you go at peak times when it’s busy, you don’t have to wait.”

Andrea Marantz with Elections Canada said the mail-in option is proving popular right across the country.

“In the past election, we had about 5,000 people across the country vote by mail in their own ridings,” she said. “Right now, we have almost 600,000 people... It’s a massive, massive increase.”

Through Marantz said Elections Canada is not currently on track to meet earlier estimates of up to five million mail-in ballots, officials are prepared to handle that amount if necessary.

On Thursday, Elections Canada data showed B.C. ridings make up nine of the top 10 in the entire country where special ballot voting kits have been issued.

In last October’s provincial election, more than half a million B.C. voters opted for a mail-in ballot: an unprecedented number.

Meanwhile, the popularity of advance voting has been increasing every election, according to Marantz, and this time is expected to be no different.

“We are expecting it to be very, very well attended this year,” she said.

Polling station staff will have PPE and barriers, and hand-sanitizing stations will be available. Masks will be required inside, or provided to those who don’t have one.

“You’ll have a single-use pencil if you want to use it, that you can just mark your ballot with and throw away or take with you,” Marantz said. “If you want to bring your own writing utensil, that’s just fine, too.”

Elections Canada is also reminding voters they can only advance vote at their assigned site, which is found on their voter cards.

Those who want a mail-in ballot have until 6 p.m. on Sept. 14 to request one.