Writs Issued for British Columbia’s 42nd Provincial General Election

September 21, 2020

VICTORIA – The writs have been issued for British Columbia’s 42nd Provincial General Election. Election Day will be Saturday, October 24, 2020.

“Our main focus is ensuring a safe and accessible voting process during the pandemic,” said Chief Electoral Officer Anton Boegman. “We have been working with Dr. Bonnie Henry’s office to develop our safe voting plans and make sure that voters don’t have to choose between safeguarding their health and exercising their right to vote. All voters have the option of voting in person with protective measures in place, or voting by mail.”


Voting safely and COVID-19

Elections BC is implementing a number of measures to help voters cast their ballot safely in person. Pandemic voting protocols have been developed in consultation with the Office of the Provincial Health Officer. Safe voting practices for voting places are available at elections.bc.ca/safevoting and will include:

  • Physical distancing
  • Capacity limits
  • Election officials wearing personal protective equipment (such as masks and face-visors)
  • Protective barriers
  • Hand sanitizing stations
  • Frequent cleaning of voting stations and frequently touched surfaces

We encourage voters to wear a mask when they vote to help protect others. Voters will not be asked to remove their mask to vote. Voters will be asked to sanitize their hands before and after voting.

To prevent close contact, some familiar voting procedures may be different. For example, voters will make a verbal declaration of their eligibility to vote instead of signing a voting book. Voters also can bring their own pen or pencil to mark their ballot.


Voting in person

Voting in person will be available during the advance voting period from Thursday, October 15 to Wednesday, October 21, and on Election Day, Saturday, October 24.

Advance voting places will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time. There will be seven days of advance voting, up from six in 2017. The additional advance voting day has been added to give voters more options and help reduce numbers in voting places. The advance voting period includes two weekend days, Saturday, October 17, and Sunday, October 18.

Voting places will be open on Election Day, Saturday, October 24, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Pacific time.

Voting places and the dates they are open are being confirmed and will be available on Elections BC’s website as soon as possible. They will also be listed on Where to Vote cards sent to every registered voter in the province before the start of the advance voting period.

Voters should stay home if they are feeling sick or self-isolating and request a vote-by-mail package instead.


Voting by mail

Voters don’t need a special reason to vote by mail. It’s an option for all eligible voters, and a good option for voters who are not comfortable voting in person because of the pandemic.

To vote by mail, voters need to request a voting package. Voting packages can be requested now on the Elections BC website at elections.bc.ca/ovr or by phone at 1-800-661-8683. The vote-by-mail package will be mailed to the voter with instructions on how to complete it and return it to Elections BC.


Voter registration

Voters can register or update their information online at elections.bc.ca/ovr, or by calling 1-800-661-8683. Voter registration by phone closes at 8 p.m. (Pacific time) on Saturday, September 26. Voter registration online closes at 11:59:59 p.m. (Pacific time) on Saturday, September 26.

Eligible voters can still register or update their voter registration when they vote, but it will make the voting process longer for them. Elections BC encourages voters to make sure their information is up to date now so they can vote faster, help reduce lineups at voting places and support physical distancing.


Election official jobs

Elections BC is recruiting election officials to work at advance voting and on Election Day. Visit elections.bc.ca/jobs for more information.


Candidate nominations

Prospective candidates can submit completed nomination packages to Elections BC’s head office in Victoria until 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 23. Beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, September 24, completed nomination packages must be submitted to the district electoral officer for the district the candidate intends to run in.

Candidate nominations close at 1 p.m. (Pacific time) on Friday, October 2. The final list of candidates will be posted online at elections.bc.ca as soon as possible after nominations close.


District electoral offices

District electoral offices will be open in every electoral district across the province as soon as possible. Locations and contact information will be listed on the Elections BC website when available.

For more information about the provincial election, visit elections.bc.ca, follow Elections BC on social media, or call 1-800-661-8683.


Backgrounder – Election Preparations



Andrew Watson
Director, Communications
Elections BC
Phone: 250-387-1709
Email: Andrew.Watson@elections.bc.ca
Website: elections.bc.ca

Elections BC is the independent, non-partisan Office of the Legislature responsible for administering electoral processes in British Columbia under the Election Act, Local Elections Campaign Financing Act, Recall and Initiative Act and Referendum Act.


BACKGROUNDER September 21, 2020


Voting safely

British Columbia’s 42nd Provincial General Election is being held under unprecedented circumstances. British Columbia has never had a provincial election during a global pandemic (a provincial election was not held during the influenza pandemic of 1918-20).

Elections BC’s must be ready to administer an election or by-election whenever called upon to do so. Recognizing that the pandemic would likely be a factor whenever the next election was held, planning for a pandemic election began in early April. At that time, Elections BC reached out to the Office of the Provincial Health Officer and other Canadian election agencies to consult on the development of safe voting plans. New Brunswick held a provincial election during the pandemic on September 14, 2020. Saskatchewan has a provincial election scheduled for October 26, 2020.


Voting by mail

Elections BC expects a significant increase in voters voting by mail this election. In past elections, around 1% of votes in a provincial election were cast by mail. Surveys of voter intentions conducted by Elections BC in May and August of this year have indicated it is possible that between 30-35% of ballots cast this election could be cast by mail. As the election progresses Elections BC will report estimates of the number of completed vote-by-mail packages it has received.

Voting by mail has been an option for voters in in B.C. since the 1991 provincial election. Elections BC uses proven processes to administer vote-by-mail, having done so in several recent provincial elections and referenda. Strict procedures in place to ensure the integrity of the process.

Depending on the volume of returned vote-by-mail packages, it may be necessary to extend the period after the close of voting and before the final count of absentee ballots. After Election Day, all absentee ballots are sent back to the voter’s electoral district of residence for counting at the final count, which usually starts 13 days after General Voting Day. Between General Voting Day and final count absentee ballots are screened to ensure that only eligible voters vote and that they only vote once.


Saturday General Voting Day and Campaign Period Extension

Changes to the Election Act in 2019 established a Saturday election day for general elections, and, in the case of a snap election, a 4-10 day extension to the election period. The length of the extension depends on the day of the week the election is called. This results in a 33-39 day campaign period, as opposed to the usual 29 days.

The extension is variable so that Election Day is always on a Saturday. The purpose of the extension in a snap election is to allow more time for candidate nominations and shipping materials to field offices, communicating with voters, and election official staffing.

For this election the extension will be five days long, as the election was called on a Monday. The campaign period will be 34 days long.


Election statistics

Currently there are 87 electoral districts in British Columbia. A general election is actually 87 separate elections, one in each of the province’s electoral districts.

As of September 20, 2020, there were 3,469,162 registered voters in B.C.

In the 41st Provincial General Election held on May 9, 2017, there were:

  • 87 electoral districts
  • 371 candidates
  • 3,441,054 estimated eligible voters
  • 3,246,647 registered voters
  • 1,986,374 registered voters who voted
  • Read the Report of the Chief Electoral Officer for more information about the 41st Provincial General Election

Voter turnout as a percentage of registered voters in the past three provincial elections in BC was:

  • 2017 – 61.2%
  • 2013 – 57.1%
  • 2009 – 55.1%



Andrew Watson
Director, Communications
Elections BC
Phone: 250-387-1709
Email: Andrew.Watson@elections.bc.ca
Website: elections.bc.ca

Elections BC is the independent, non-partisan Office of the Legislature responsible for administering electoral processes in British Columbia under the Election Act, Local Elections Campaign Financing Act, Recall and Initiative Act and Referendum Act.