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And even though most voters “will likely only spend minutes inside a voting place,” according to Boegman, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a surge in interest in mail-in ballots.

Elections B.C. “began procuring a large volume of vote-by-mail supplies this summer in preparation for a potential election and we have enough to meet the anticipated demand,” the elections administrator wrote in response to questions from Postmedia News.

Suppliers are in-place to produce more if necessary.

Boegman said between 35 and 40 per cent of voters are believed to be interested in voting by mail, which means up to 800,000 packages may be distributed between now and election day on Oct. 24.

Each package contains six pieces: A secrecy sleeve, a certification envelope, a return envelope, a ballot, a write-in ballot and a set of step-by-step instructions for filling out the ballot and assembling the return package.

Provincial service-provider B.C. Mail Plus has automated the production of packages and will help manage the volume of returned ballots. All returned packages will be stored and then processed in a secure storage facility.

Elections B.C. spent about $3.5 million on postage, printing and associated materials during the 2017 general election, but only 6,500 vote-by-mail ballots were received. The total bill for the election was $39.5 million or about $12 per registered voter.

Completed vote-by-mail ballots can be mailed in or dropped off at any polling place, Service B.C. offices in Vancouver, Surrey, Burnaby and Masset, any district electoral office, and other drop locations still to be determined. Completed ballots must be received by Elections B.C. before 8 p.m. on election day.

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