The mail knows no political master

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We discussed last week how very smoothly vote by mail went in the last B.C. election, when 31 per cent of the population voted by that method.

It was quite clear on the evening of the election, after polls closed, that John Horgan was headed for a majority government, although a few ridings results did have to wait until all mail in ballots had been counted.

But with the writ expected to drop for a federal election within the next few weeks, getting results the same night may be a slightly different story. Which means political nerd’s election parties may not be quite as exciting as normal. Stop it. They are too exciting.

The Canadian Press reported last week that it may take a few days for the final results of the federal election to be called, given that there will very likely be a huge increase is the number of mail in ballots, due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer Stephane Perrault said mail-in ballots will not be counted until the day after the election, in order to allow them to be received right up to the last minute before polls close and to give election officials time subsequently to carefully conduct checks to ensure no one who voted by mail also cast a ballot in person.

Which means that for once those of us in British Columbia won’t have to suffer our usual fate of having the election called before our polls have even closed.

And we really may be in limbo for more than a few days. Unlike the last B.C. election where it was pretty clear that the NDP were poised for a majority, numbers are tighter federally.

Yes, it is likely the federal Liberals will squeak out at least a minority, as polls are close but the Liberals do lead in all of them. But only by a few points.

We may wait a few days before it can be officially called.

While Elections Canada still expects the majority of Canadians will vote in person, they have made it as easy as possible to vote by mail. You will have to apply online for mail-in vote kits, as we did in B.C. But you can also drop them off at your polling place on Election Day if you fear they won’t be returned in time. Best thing to do is apply as soon as the writ drops.

You will recall that the huge election mess in the United States came about because “certain people” proclaimed loudly even before the vote was held that mail in ballots couldn’t be trusted.

That won’t happen in Canada, Perrault says, noting there is no real partisan divide in this country over mail in voting. Certainly there was no outcry after the B.C. election. Most people recognize it is needed during a pandemic and trust that Elections Canada has it in hand.

Once a person is issued a mail in ballot, their name will be crossed out on voting lists. There are all kinds of checks and balances to make sure no one votes twice.

Perrault has also asked for a longer campaign period to give Elections Canada plenty of time to make sure safety measures are in place for in person voting, and to give people more time to vote by mail.

A longer campaign is not likely what most people want, but at least the maximum length is 50 days. We can survive all the political commercials, the promises, the schmoozing for 50 days.

It will give me time to plan my election night party and think up something exciting in place of immediate results.



carolyn.grant@kimberleybulletin.com

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