Elections BC: Vote counting machines ready for the next election

The next time British Columbians head to the voting booth for a provincial election, their ballots will be tabulated electronically.

This is one of many changes to the province’s election law that were approved by the Legislative Assembly in 2019, but were not ready for implementation when British Columbia held early elections in October 2020.

B.C.’s Ministry of the Attorney General announced Friday that Elections BC has “completed the necessary preparations” to hold an election under the new provisions, which the ministry called “the most significant change to the electoral process in British Columbia.” British Columbia in over 25 years”.

In addition to allowing the use of counting machines – which are already used for municipal elections in British Columbia – the changes allow the use of an electronic ballot book, which will make it easier for election officials to verify who voted and expedite the in-person voting process.

Elections BC will also introduce ballot printers at polling places, which will reduce the need for written ballots by allowing the printing of personalized ballots for people voting from outside their registered electoral district.

The changes stemmed from recommendations made by the Chief Electoral Officer of British Columbia after the 2017 provincial election.

One of the main advantages of the ballot printing machines, the electronic ballot book and the vote counting machines, according to the CEO’s report, is that the changes make it possible to count all votes – including ballots. postal voting – on election night. In previous elections in British Columbia, the final count of mail-in ballots took place 13 days after Election Day.

The department’s press release on Friday did not mention the possibility of counting all ballots on election night, and an online summary of the legislation appears to leave the question of when mail-in ballots are counted at discretion of the Chief Electoral Officer.

Mail-in ballots can only be counted on election night, according to the summary, if they were cast in a manner that was recorded in an electronic ballot log, meaning they were automatically checked against in-person ballots to ensure no one voted twice.

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