School buildings will be one type of venue used for in-person voting in the upcoming snap election in B.C., according to Elections BC.
At a press briefing on Tuesday morning, Elections BC representatives—Deputy Chief Officer Charles Porter and CEO Anton Boegman—said voting this year will look different due to the pandemic.
Elections BC will not be using schools as in-person polling stations while students are in attendance. Instead, schools will be requested for availability for advanced voting on the weekend before General Election Day (October 17 and 18), and on election day itself: October 24.
The non-partisan office will also pay for extra cleaning before and after voting takes place in schools by either hiring cleaners or paying existing staff to carry out additional cleaning.
44 per cent of polling stations were located in schools in 2017.
This year, more citizens are expected to cast their ballots by mail rather than in person.
Within 24 hours of the election announcement, Elections BC received over 20,000 requests for vote-by-mail packages, compared to only 6,500 requests for vote-by-mail during the entire provincial election in 2017.
However physical venues will still exist for those who choose to cast their ballots in person. Due to the pandemic, these venues need to be large physical spaces with open air flow, sufficient entry and exit points, and spaces for reception.
They will also have capacity restrictions, physical distancing and enhanced cleaning measures, PPE for election officials, protective barriers, and hand sanitizing stations in place to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
A full list of venues has not yet been released, but all voters can cast their ballots between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on October 24.
Advance voting will take place from Thursday October 15 to Wednesday October 21 between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
For those who choose to vote by mail, 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.