Blame it on COVID, blame it on the hectic pace of day-to-day life, but whatever the reason more and more Canadians are opting to cast their vote by mail.
Elections Canada received requests for nearly 1.3 million mail-in ballots this year, and 951,039 had been returned as of election day.
That’s up from about 50,000 during the 2019 election.
British Columbia received the most mail ballots of all the provinces. In the Victoria riding, more than 12,600 people voted by mail, the most in Canada, followed by Saanich-Gulf Islands where over 10,700 people opted for postal votes.
B.C. also saw a major increase in mail-in voting in the October 2020 provincial election. Elections BC received nearly 700,000 requests for vote-by mail packages in 2020, compared to 6,517 requests in the 2017 election.
While mail-in ballots may take a bit longer to be counted, meaning it could take a day or two before results are fully known, there have been shown to be a number of benefits.
Oregon and Washington state are among five states in the U.S. to conduct their elections totally by mail. It has led to marked increases in voter participation, with more than 80 per cent of registered voters in Oregon regularly casting a ballot in presidential elections.
In addition to higher turnout, mail-in ballots eliminate the need for polling stations and co-ordinating poll workers on election day. It does take more time to print and mail out the ballots and requires staff expertise and preparation to handle the scanning and sorting of ballots.
In this week’s Canadian election, voters had to apply to use a mail-in ballot by contacting Elections Canada by Sept. 14, six days before the election. If Canada adopted the approach of our neighbours in Oregon and Washington state, and mailed ballots to all registered voters, the numbers would almost certainly increase.
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