VANCOUVER -- Elections BC has already received around 160,000 requests for vote-by-mail packages since the provincial election was called on Monday.

The number jumped significantly since Tuesday, when Elections BC first reported there had been around 20,000 requests from voters wanting a mail-in ballot.

Elections BC says as of Sept. 20, there were 3,469,162 registered voters in B.C.

Chief electoral officer Anton Boegman told CTV News Tuesday that the number of voters opting for mail-in ballots was expected to be higher this year because of the pandemic. Surveys conducted by Elections BC showed between 30 and 35 per cent of ballots could be cast by mail. In previous votes, that number was around one per cent.

With the update reported Thursday, it appeared 4.6 per cent of voters have already made the request.

During the last provincial election three years ago, 11,268 vote by mail packages were requested and sent, according to Elections BC. There were ultimately 6,375 valid votes returned by mail, or about 0.3 per cent of the popular vote.

Boegman said there could be a delay before the final results of this year's election are known if there is a high number of absentee or vote-by-mail ballots.

Screening of mail-in ballots to check eligibility and to ensure people haven't voted twice cannot take place until a minimum of 13 days after election day on Oct. 24, according to Elections BC.

On election day, there will be an initial ballot count, and Elections BC will also release updated information about the number of vote-by-mail packages.

Voters are able to request a mail-in voting package on the Elections BC website or by calling 1-800-661-8683. Packages must be received by 8 p.m. on Oct. 24.

A mail-in ballot can be requested as late as 4 p.m. on election day, and packages are also able to be submitted in person at a district electoral office, voting place or certain Service BC locations. ​

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Maria Weisgarber