B.C. election: Hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots don’t have names, parties listed
VANCOUVER -- More than 400,000 British Columbians have already requested a vote-by-mail package for the upcoming provincial election. But the ballot they receive in the mail may not be what they’re expecting.
“Any voter who requests a mail-in package before nominations close will receive a write-in ballot. So it’s a blank white space on the ballet that voters fill in the name of a candidate or party of their choice,” said Andrew Watson with Elections BC.
He acknowledged this could present a problem if voters believe without a list of candidates in the voting package they can cast a ballot for their preferred premier.
And if they write in NDP Leader John Horgan, the BC Liberals’ Andrew Wilkinson or Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau?
“The ballot would be rejected if they are not a candidate running in your electoral district,” said Watson.
UBC political science professor Richard Johnston says he was surprised when he saw the blank mail-in ballot.
“I think Elections BC and the parties are going to have to spend some time, starting now and for the next several weeks, clarifying what it means to express intent,” he said.
If some voters do write the wrong name and have their ballot invalidated, Johnston doesn’t think any particular party will benefit. But he does think the parties should make sure their voters know what to do, adding “There is quite a lot of time for further information dissemination.”
Elections BC is also trying to get the information to voters through social media and in the voting package.
“One of the changes we made to hopefully make this really clear is to make the ballot bigger and provide instructions on the ballot itself,” said Watson.
Anyone who requests a mail-in voting package after candidates are confirmed on Oct. 2 will receive a traditional ballot with names and parties listed. But by then, hundreds of thousands of blank write-in ballots will already have arrived, or be in the mail.