BC FORUM News - from BC FORUM President Diane Wood
How to vote safely
Sisters and brothers,
I am reaching out to you to encourage you to vote – and to outline how we can all do it safely during a pandemic.
Thanks to a combination of skill, public health services and community spirit, we haven’t been hit nearly as hard as many others areas. Nonetheless, nothing is without risk these days.
Elections BC has for months been studying how we can do it safely. The plans they’ve outlined give me confidence that will be the case. However you decide to vote, please make a plan today and be sure to cast your ballot!
Voting by mail
The safest option, of course, is to vote by mail. Elections BC is already accepting requests for the packages required to vote by mail. In fact, I did so on the day the election was called. It was easy. And it only took five minutes.
If you want to do the same, you can request your package by filling out the short form on the Elections BC website at elections.bc.ca/ovr, or by phoning 1-800-661-8683.
If you make the request before Oct. 2, when nominations close, you will receive a blank ballot. Just print the name of the candidate or party you support. The easiest way to avoid confusion, and a potential spoiled ballot, is to just print the name of the party.
Voting in person
With the precautions being taken by Elections BC, I believe voting will be safer than buying groceries or going for a haircut.
Some familiar voting procedures will be different. For example, you’ll make a verbal declaration of your eligibility to vote instead of signing a book. You can also bring your own pen or pencil to mark your ballot.
Safe voting practices are detailed at elections.bc.ca/safevoting. The measures include physical distancing, capacity limits, election officials wearing personal protective equipment, protective barriers, asking people to sanitize their hands before and after voting, and frequent cleaning of voting stations and frequently touched surfaces. Voters are also encouraged to wear masks to protect others.
In short, we’ll be seeing all the safety measures we’ve become familiar with in other settings.
Advance voting and Election Day hours
Advance voting has been expanded to seven days to provide more options and help reduce the number of people in voting places.
Advance voting places will be open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Pacific time, every day from Thursday, Oct. 15 until Wednesday, Oct. 21.
On Election Day, Saturday, Oct. 24, polls will also be open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Pacific time.
Again, please be sure to vote. All elections are important, but this one is especially crucial. That last thing we need in the current situation is a return to the extreme restraint and cuts to services that we’ve seen in the past.
Stay well, and stay safe!