As the province gets ready for its first ever election during a pandemic, Elections BC says that as many as one in three voters are expected to vote by mail this fall.

In a typical election, only one per cent of ballots are cast by mail. 

At a press briefing on Tuesday morning, Deputy Chief Electoral Officer Charles Porter said that they had already received over 20,000 requests for vote-by-mail packages in less than 24 hours since the election announcement.

In 2017, only 6,500 requests for vote-by-mail were received during the entire provincial election.

Porter says that final tabulation of ballots is likely to take longer than expected, however with so many variables at play it was impossible to say precisely how long.

He added that in the past, Elections BC has tabulated about 200,000 ballots in a two-week period. They will be hiring additional staff to deal with the increased workload.

“Our normal complement of staff is around 100 in the province; during an election that swells up to 25,000,” said Porter. “We have a lot of practice in hiring a lot of staff very quickly.”

Completed vote-by-mail packages must be received by Elections BC by 8 p.m. Pacific time on October 24.

Elections BC says voters should request and return their package as soon as possible.

Packages can be requested online at elections.bc.ca/ovr or by calling 1-800-661-8683.