Counting of pandemic election special ballots may take until Friday to complete

More than a million voters cast their votes through a special ballot, up from 50,000 in 2019, Elections Canada says.

Article content

The end of the federal election voting on Monday night marked the beginning of a long process to account for more than a million special ballots that could take until Friday to complete.


Article content

The ballots were sent by Canadians living outside the country, voters outside their constituencies, prisoners, and members of the Canadian Armed Forces. But a large majority represented those who cast their votes to avoid voting in person in their districts due to the pandemic.

“Oh my gosh, (in) 2019 it was about 50,000 people in total who voted by mail,” Elections Canada spokeswoman Natasha Gauthier said in response to a question about the magnitude of the vote by mail this time around.

Poll workers in many constituencies are still counting those ballots, Gauthier said, which could take until Friday in some places.

BC had six of the top 10 constituencies with the most “special ballots,” according to Elections Canada, including Victoria, which had the highest number, 12,701, or 22 percent of all votes cast.


Article content

Just over a million of the 1.3 million special ballots requested were returned by mail or delivered to constituencies.

Special ballots cast from abroad or outside of a field trip are counted at Elections Canada headquarters in Gatineau, Que.

However, by law, votes cast within a walk are counted at the counting offices, Gauthier said, a process that began Tuesday morning with a two-step verification process to establish that the ballots were returned by the ballots. voters to whom they were issued, and which voters did. Nor do you vote a second time in person.

“If it seems like you’ve voted more than once, your team walks away and isn’t counted,” Gauthier said.

The package consists of a ballot, a blank inner envelope that cannot be traced back to the voter, and an outer envelope that must be signed and contains a code specific to the voter who requested it, Gauthier said.


Article content

“Everything is done in separate steps to keep the vote secret,” Gauthier said.

A team of at least two poll workers opens these internal envelopes to remove and count the ballots, which is done in the presence of witnesses, tellers who represent each of the candidates and who can write down objections.

“They are not allowed to interrupt the count,” Gauthier said. “But they can take note of their objections and refute them later.”

“If it is a close race and they want to do a judicial recount, they can say that we contested X-number of ballots”, which will then be verified again.

Special ballots are cast before candidate lists are completed, so voters are required to write the name of the candidate they are voting for, and that can be any reasonable attempt at the true spelling, perhaps with the affiliation of your party to clear things up.


Article content

“There’s a bit of a margin there,” Gauthier said, “as long as the voter’s intent is clear.”

Problems arise when names are misspelled or unreadable. Writing just the affiliation of a party or the name of the party leader (unless it is the leader) does not count.

“We expect a good number of tours to take place (Wednesday),” Gauthier said, although no BC tours with full counts were included as of the deadline.

The special ballots will not materially affect the election results, said UBC political scientist Richard Johnston, but they account for about 5 percent of all ballots cast in the elections, so they could reverse the preliminary results in a few seats.

“They have political consequences in the sense that the full count (by mail) will most likely have a larger share of Liberals than the Election Day count,” Johnston said, considering that most requests for special ballots they come from liberals or leanings of the NDP. walks.

“I think we have a good chance of seeing at least some seats confirming a Liberal victory or even creating one,” Johnston said, such as in Vancouver-Granville, where Liberal Taleeb Noormohamed led as of Wednesday’s deadline with 15,992 votes to. favor. 15,734 for NDP candidate Anjali Appadurai.

In the parade, 6,627 special ballots were returned in time for the elections.

[email protected]



Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civilized discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour to moderate before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications – you will now receive an email if you receive a response to your comment, there is an update from a comment thread you follow, or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Principles for more information and details on how to adjust your E-mail settings.

Leave a Comment