B.C. election plan includes plenty of options for voting

The province’s chief electoral officer and provincial health officer say voting on Oct. 24 could be as easy as picking up a take-out coffee.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and chief electoral officer Anton Boegman on Tuesday unveiled plans for voting safety in the 2020 provincial election.

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“Our mandate is to be ready to administer an election, when required, and I believe we have achieved that mandate,” Boegman said.

The pandemic election safety plan includes in-person voting, seven days of advance polls, and options to vote by mail-in ballot, over the phone, at curbsides, and on-site in long-term-care homes and hospitals.

Assisted telephone voting, which in the past accommodated people with disabilities, is being expanded, for example, to people who are self-isolating during the last week of the campaign.

There will also be more opportunities to vote in person at more places and on more days, Boegman said.

“Most voters will likely only spend minutes inside a voting place,” he said. “Casting your vote be like getting a takeout coffee or picking up milk and eggs from the grocery store, in terms of the safety protocols and time spent.”

Voting locations will have measures such as physical distancing, barriers, capacity limits, and the use of personal protective equipment in place.

People voting in person will be asked to use sanitation stations before and after voting and to wear a mask. People will not be asked to remove their masks while voting, and voters may bring their own pen or pencil to mark their ballots.

“Much thought and consideration has gone into ensuring British Columbians can safely vote,” Henry said.

Schools, which made up 44 percent of locations on voting day in the provincial election in 2017, will still be used, but only on weekends when students are not present. They will undergo cleaning before and after use.

Henry said she has a “high degree of confidence” in what’s being done in B.C.

“We are controlling as much as we can, the virus,” she said. “We all need to continue to do our part and the plans that we have in place will allow this election to happen and our important democratic process to occur during this very trying and challenging year.”

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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