Elections BC sent out almost 700,000 mail voting packages as of Oct. 14 with just under 3.5 million registered voters. (Black Press Media File)

Elections BC sent out almost 700,000 mail voting packages as of Oct. 14 with just under 3.5 million registered voters. (Black Press Media File)

COLUMN: In praise of public servants

The snap election could have gone a lot less smoothly if not for the work of Elections BC officials

With Election Day come and gone, B.C.’s government is left in a strange, weeks-long limbo.

The NDP will govern with a majority, but with a record number of mail-in ballots to count there are still a handful of MLA races to iron out.

It’s a good time to reflect on those members of government who are busy doing the ironing.

Elections BC aims to have the final election results ready by Nov. 16. With more than 500,000 mail-in votes pending, several ridings are left hanging in the balance.

No race is tighter than Vernon-Monashee, with incumbent BC Liberal candidate Eric Foster holding just a 0.9 percentage point lead over NDP candidate Harwinder Sandhu.

Now poised to head the largest-ever NDP majority government in B.C.’s history, John Horgan called a snap election on Sept. 21, giving Elections BC staff 33 days to get their ducks in a row.

By most accounts, they did just that.

Despite short notice and a number of COVID-19 considerations at play, the election was safe, efficient and functional.

Elected officials will always get the limelight in the wake of an election, but our public servants deserve praise for the work they did to set up an election these circumstances.

READ MORE: Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

READ MORE: Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

It would be easier to take for granted the work Canada’s public servants do to facilitate democracy without the stark contrast we see south of the border.

The U.S. presidential election has long had its Nov. 3 date set in stone as part of its standard election cycle. Despite plenty of time to organize, many early-voting Americans have stood in queues for as long as 11 hours.

In B.C. there were 1,253 polling stations available on Election Day – one for every 2,800 registered voters. Compare that to a state such as Florida, which requires just one polling station per precinct.

With its 14.4 million registered voters as of Oct. 6, that would make for one required voting place per 25,000 registered voters – far from ideal in a state with 786,000 COVID-19 cases and counting.

In Vernon, and throughout much of the province, going through the polls took as little as five minutes for many. I spoke with more than a dozen people as they came through the polls at the Vernon Recreation Centre.

Practically all of them described the experience as safe and well organized, and most went out of their way to compliment the voting officers on their friendliness and helpfulness.

Similar observations were made by reporters throughout the Southern Interior and across the province.

We’re fortunate to have a well-oiled machine when it comes to organizing a fair and safe electoral process. So, while we wait until Nov. 16 for the final counts, let’s recognize the people who pulled off an election in the middle of a pandemic in little over a month.

Let’s be thankful for those who toil humbly in the background to keep the gears of our democracy turning.

Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter


Just Posted

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

North Westside residents can dispose of their unwanted bulky items between June 30 and July 14, 2021. (File photo)
North Westside residents can soon get rid of unwanted bulky items

Large household items can be disposed of at North Westside Transfer Station June 30 to July 14

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D area. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control to Electoral Area D; director calls for respectful discussion

The new Civic Memorial Park will incorporate pieces of the 80-year-old arena it replaces. (Artists rendering)
Pieces of Civic Arena reclaimed for new Vernon park

City centre space to incorporate wood from the historic arena

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Investigators use a bucket to help recover human remains at a home burned in the Camp fire, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, in Magalia, Calif. Many of the missing in the deadly Northern California wildfire are elderly residents in Magalia, a forested town of about 11,000 north of the destroyed town of Paradise. (AP Photo/John Locher)
‘Forever War’ with fire has California battling forests instead

Five of the state’s largest-ever blazes seared California last year, as authorities tackle prevention

The Sacred Hearts church on PIB land burned Monday morning. (Theresa May Jack Facebook)
Church burns on Penticton Indian Band land

The fire started around 1:30 a.m. Monday morning

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto and IOC President Thomas Bach, on a screen, speak during a five=party online meeting at Harumi Island Triton Square Tower Y in Tokyo Monday, June 21, 2021. The Tokyo Olympics will allow some local fans to attend when the games open in just over a month, Tokyo organizing committee officials and the IOC said on Monday. (Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Pool Photo via AP)
Tokyo Olympics to allow Japanese fans only, with strict limits

Organizers set a limit of 50% capacity — up to a maximum of 10,000 fans

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

The Pierre family, an Indigenous family, once lived in what is now downtown Summerland. Today, Pierre Drive is named in honour of the family. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
Pierre family played role in Summerland’s history

Downtown Summerland was once Penticton Indian Reserve #3

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Jaimee Peters photo of a Willow Midwives helping with a birth. Willow closed its doors March 31 because of a shortage of midwives. (Contributed)
South Okanagan’s only midwifery to re-open this summer

Willow Community Midwives was forced to close because of a shortage of midwives

Most Read