More British Columbians have cast ballots in advance of general voting day this year than in any other election in the province’s history.
Elections BC said Thursday that 681,055 ballots were filed in the unprecedented seven days of advanced polls, which have since closed. Advanced votes will be counted along with votes cast on Oct. 24.
The riding with the most advanced ballots cast was Parksville-Qualicum with 12,609.
Additionally, Elections BC reported an estimated 396,900 mail-in ballots have been returned so far out of the 724,279 packages that were requested and issued. That’s about 55 per cent.
In total, Elections BC estimated that about 1,077,955 votes were already in the ballot box.
The high number of mail-in ballots means B.C. may not be able to project a winner on election night, because those ballots cannot be counted until at least 13 days later, as per provincial law to prevent fraud.
The estimated number of returned mail-in packages did not include those that were received by Canada Post and but remained in transit to Elections BC, nor did it include packages dropped off at a district electoral offices or voting places.
A breakdown of packages returned by region was not available Thursday.
Voters who still have a mail-in ballot are asked to drop it off at a polling station on Saturday because there is not enough time to guarantee it will make it back through the mail in time.
It’s unclear how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect election day turnout. A total of 1,986,374 votes were cast in the 2017 provincial election.
Polls are scheduled to be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24.