Voter turnout 52.4 per cent but mail-in ballots could boost that figure: Elections B.C.

At least half of registered voters cast a ballot in Saturday’s provincial election, but Elections B.C. said that figure could rise once all mail-in ballots are counted.

At least 52.4 per cent of registered voters cast a ballot in the election. Early results suggest that the New Democrats will form a majority government.

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A total of 546,877 voters cast a ballot at voting stations on election day, while 670,324 people voted during the seven-day advance voting period, for a total of more than 1.2 million voters. Elections B.C. also said they received 85,000 certification envelopes with absentee ballots and 525,000 mail-in ballots.

That figure does not include mail-in ballots returned in person to voting places or district electoral offices before the deadline of 8 p.m. Saturday, so the preliminary estimate of voter turnout will likely increase.

The mail-in ballots and absentee ballots will be counted beginning Nov. 6, according to the Elections Act, which requires mail-in ballots to be counted 13 days after election day. This allows time for the ballots to be sent back to the voters’ home riding and for elections staff to verify that the voter is registered and has not voted twice.

The counting period typically takes three days but Elections B.C. said it could be longer because of the unprecedented number of mail-in ballots.

The final count will take place at different times for different ridings and the results will be announced as soon as they are finalized.

Accounting for the six-day period for judicial review, Elections B.C. said Nov. 16 will be the deadline for when the election writs are returned and final results are in.

There were nearly 3.5 million registered voters this year, which is an increase from the 3.2 million registered voters in 2017.

In the last provincial election in 2017, 1,974,712 valid ballots were counted, for a 61 per cent voter turnout.

In that election, 60 per cent of voters cast their ballot in person on election day, with 30 per cent voting in advance polls and 10 per cent voting by mail or through absentee ballot.

kderosa@timescolonist.com

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