Elections Canada is preparing for greater use of local mail-in ballots due to the COVID-19 pandemic and wildfire crisis.
Thousands in British Columbia’s Interior are displaced by out-of-control wildfires. Meanwhile, more voters are dissuaded to vote in person due to the recently expanded COVID-19 provincial health orders and increased cases.
Anyone, though, can request to cast a ballot by mail for any reason, said Elections Canada B.C. spokesperson Andrea Marantz.
Voters must first register for the mail-in ballot online or by contacting any Elections Canada office ahead of the Tuesday, Sept. 14, deadline at 6 p.m.
This is a good option for evacuees, said Marantz, if they have a safe place to have it sent to.
A voting kit is mailed to the provided address and once the mark is made, ballots must be mailed back by the deadlines designated in the kit provided. Canada Post flags ballots as a priority to ensure timely delivery.
Elections Canada’s website has a notice on the mail-in option stating staff are working hard to process these applications and send electors kits as quickly as possible, but will likely take up to 72 hours to process them.
Marantz said voters can contact the public information line at 1-800-463-6868 to speak to someone who will go over the details of registering and obtaining a mail-in kit.
“This is a good starting point for seniors or people who don’t have a computer,” she said.
The information line will point people in the right direction to a local returning office where voters can apply for a mail-in ballot.
But, some seniors in Vernon said there’s likely not enough time to apply and receive mail-in ballots ahead of the Sept. 20 election.
Marantz said for those concerned, other options are still available.
Votes can be cast in person at a local returning office until Sept. 14, advance polls are another option.
“This year,” she said. “If you’re a senior and you don’t want to go into a polling place, you can ask a neighbour who is registered at the same poll as you and they can take in your ballot.”