Ever since Premier John Horgan called a snap provincial election to be held Oct. 24, questions have been raised about the safety of voting in person during a global pandemic.
But everyone from Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, to Election BC CEO Anton Boegman, to an experienced White Rock voting station worker agree that it can, and will, be done safely.
Boegman noted that more than 50 elections have taken place this year worldwide, and Elections BC has taken a number of steps to not only increase safety, but increase the number of voting opportunities.
He said people who decide to vote in person can expect physical distancing measures, hand sanitizing stations, capacity limits, protective barriers for election officials, and officials wearing personal protective equipment.
The process will be streamlined, he added, to reduce the amount of time a person needs to wait to cast their ballot.
“Casting your vote will be like getting a take out coffee, or picking up milk and eggs from the grocery store in terms of safety protocols and time spent,” Boegman said.
White Rock resident Pat Petrala has worked nearly every provincial and federal election in the past 20 years.
She said she has confidence in both Henry and Elections BC to facilitate a safe voting experience.
“And much like at the grocery store, the pharmacy, we’re behind plastic shields and we have our mask on and we wear gloves to handle documents,” Petrala said. “It makes logical sense, witnessing what happened in the Maritimes for their vote. We saw how they worked. It doesn’t threaten me at all. I don’t feel insecure and I’m 70 years old.”
Due to the pandemic, more British Columbians have decided to vote by mail-in ballot than ever before. Election results won’t be finalized until after Nov. 6., when those mail-in ballots are counted. An estimated 11,206 number of mail-in ballots were requested by Elections BC within the Surrey-White Rock riding. There are 44,326 registered voters in the region.
Additionally, an estimated 12,703 number of mail-in ballots were requested by Elections BC within the Surrey South riding. There are 52,202 registered voters in the region.
There are roughly 3.5 million registered voters in the province.