The results of tight races in ridings with large numbers of yet-to-be-counted mail-in ballots might not be known for weeks.
By Nov. 6, the estimated half-a-million-plus mail-in ballots that were returned should have made it back to voters’ home ridings, allowing the manual final ballot count to start. Those mail-in and absentee ballots, unprecedented in scale due to the pandemic, could make a big difference in close races where results were unclear on election night.
The final ballot count is expected to take three days, but Elections B.C. said the process could take longer because of the sheer number of vote-by-mail and absentee ballots.
Elections B.C. will let the public know on Nov. 5 how many certified mail-in ballots were received, which will provide a better picture of how long counting will take.
Taking into account the six-day period to request a judicial recount in the event of an extremely close race, Election B.C. said Nov. 16 is the goal for delivering final results.
The elections agency had received 497,900 vote-by-mail packages by midnight on Friday, and many more were expected to be dropped off at polling stations by 8 p.m. Saturday.
In the closely fought Oak Bay Gordon Head riding, for example, 15,918 voters requested mail-in ballots, about 37.5 per cent of the 42,385 eligible voters. In Saanich South, 14,230 mail-in ballots were requested, which represents more than a third of the 41,697 eligible voters.
The 13-day delay to begin the final count of mail-in ballots is required under the Elections Act to ensure only eligible voters cast ballots and that people didn’t vote twice.
Elections B.C. said 681,055 people voted in advance polls.