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Elections BC may still extend referendum deadline over postal strike concerns

Behind the scenes at B.C. electoral reform referendum processing warehouse
WATCH: Behind the scenes at B.C. electoral reform referendum processing warehouse

British Columbia’s chief electoral officer says the province is considering extending the deadline to return electoral reform referendum ballots because of the ongoing work stoppages at Canada Post.

Anton Boegman says his office is working closely with Canada Post to determine what impacts the rotating strikes have had.

“We have been in contact with Canada Post on a very regular basis throughout the referendum, meeting daily and at times twice daily. We are working with them to understand very clearly what has been the cumulative impact of the rotating strikes within British Columbia on our ability to get mail to voters and for them to return packages to us through the mail,” said Boegman.

“We are considering an extension to the deadline by which voter package can be received through the mail.”

READ MORE: Boundary Similkameen leading in referendum ballot returns; critics say stats still too low

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Elections BC has so far received around 810,000 ballots, 25 per cent of registered voters. British Columbians have until November 30 at 4:30 p.m. to ensure that ballots are received by Elections BC.

Rotating strikes have been taking place at Canada Post since the start of the electoral reform referendum period. Boegman said that so far the system is working, but there are concerns that things could get worse.

WATCH HERE (aired November 16): Should Premier Horgan extend the referendum deadline?

Should Premier Horgan extend the referendum deadline?
Should Premier Horgan extend the referendum deadline?

“We very much hoped that the round of negotiations over the weekend and into the early part of this week would have resulted to an end of impasse and it’s evident that it is not the situation now,” said Boegman.

There has been a recent influx of voters, with around 70,000 to 80,000 ballots a day arriving at the Elections BC warehouse. Media was given a tour of the warehouse on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Electoral reform referendum neck and neck as deadline to get ballots back nears

Boegman said if ballots are put in the mail this week, they will be received on time. The deadline to request a ballot, if you haven’t received one already, is midnight on Friday, Nov. 23.

“If you look at how this compares to other vote by mail events it seems to be mirroring the same trajectory which is a large percentage of returns come back in the last few weeks before the deadline,” said Boegman.

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“Everyone at Elections BC is working hard to make sure those ballots that are received are processed, prepared and ready to be counted.”