October 22, 2018 8:01 pm
Updated: October 23, 2018 12:05 am

Proportional Representation referendum kicks off as questions about Canada Post strike, partisan ads linger

WATCH: B.C.'s chief electoral officer Anton Boegman walks through what you'll find in your proportional representation referendum voting package, and how to fill out the ballot and send it in.


The ballots for the upcoming electoral reform referendum are now in the mail. But a potential postal strike could delay when the voting packages arrive.

Elections BC is closely watching the rolling strikes at Canada Post that could slow down mail distribution. Chief Electoral Officer Anton Boegman has the authority to extend the voting period for the referendum if necessary, should job action at Canada Post materially impact the referendum process.

READ MORE: Canada Post rotating strikes begin in Victoria B.C.

Any changes will be communicated to the public but at this point there is no plan to extend the voting deadline. Elections BC has been forced to extend referendum voting periods in the past.

“In the 2011 HST referendum there was a lockout by Canada Post and there was a two-week time period when there was no mail moving at all in Canada. At that time we did extend the voting period by two weeks to make allowances for that disruption,” Boegman said.

WATCH: Proportional representation referendum packages start to go out

British Columbians will get a chance to decide whether to keep the current voting system or switch to a proportional voting system.

READ MORE: British Columbians split on proportional representation, one third undecided: poll

All the ballots will be sent out by November 2. Voters who are not registered have until November 23 to sign up and all ballots must be in by 4:30 p.m. on November 30.

Elections BC will begin to count on December 1 and hope to finish within the month, if there are no delays.

WATCH HERE: Canada Post strike not expected to impact proportional representation referendum: Elections BC

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“The choice of  a voting system impacts voters, impacts candidates, it impacts the way government operates in the legislature. Our desire is that people educate themselves and cast their ballots,” Boegman said.

“We are going to work hard to ensure results are delivered as quickly as possible. We are aiming for a couple of weeks.”

Elections BC has posted neutral information about the voting systems, short videos and a voter’s guide on its website. Each referendum voting package is personally addressed to a registered voter, and voters may only use the package that is addressed to them. The package includes a ballot and instructions on how to complete the package and return it to Elections BC.

READ MORE: B.C. Government to legislate a second referendum on electoral reform if new system passes

On Monday, Vote PR BC, the official proponent in the electoral reform referendum campaign, requested an investigation into activities of the BC Liberal Caucus and BC Liberal Party. The group is concerned the BC Liberal Caucus website links directly to the BC Liberal Party website under a link that reads “Click here to find out more about the three pro-rep systems handpicked by the NDP.”

“Our understanding is that using a taxpayer-funded caucus page to direct voters to a political party site is not allowed under the rules of the BC Legislative Assembly,” Vote PR BC President Antony Hodgson said in a letter sent to Elections BC on Monday.

“We are concerned that the BC Liberal Caucus may be doing so in order to support the BC Liberal Party in either gathering names for partisan and fundraising purposes, and/or to support a registered advertising sponsor (i.e., the BC Liberal Party) with their referendum activities.”

Elections BC is still looking into the issue.

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