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EDITORIAL – Mail-in voting soars but will it boost the turnout?

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

VOTING BY MAIL isn’t something I’ve ever supported but, this time, I’ve filled out my online application for a mail package. It took about five minutes and the form confirmed my voting registration as well.

My opinion is that voting should be done the good old-fashioned way, at the polling station. As long as we’re able, of course. I figure we should be committed enough to the democratic process to get off our duffs and make the trek to the ballot box.

But, of course, this year is different. This year, there’s COVID-19. So, as much as I enjoy the in-person voting experience, I’m doing it the safe way and voting from the comfort of my home.

There’s a wrinkle in this, though. Mail-in ballots must be received at Elections BC by the close of voting, 8 p.m. Oct. 24. Otherwise, the ballot doesn’t get counted. So, I’ll have to make sure my package is in the mail several days before election day and trust in Canada Post.

That’s a shortcoming of advance voting, but under the circumstances we’ll live with it. As of today, more than 200,000 British Columbians have applied for mail-in voting packages.

Whether so much mail-in voting is a good thing or a bad thing can be gauged by the turnout. If it results in an increase, mail-in voting could become the next big thing in our elections.

Advance voting isn’t always mail-in voting but there might be a clue in the fact advance voting rose from less than six per cent in 1996 to more than 20 per cent in 2013.

Despite that, less than 58 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots in 2017, compared to 70.5 per cent in 1983.

So, hopes that mail-in voting will boost turnout is likely wishful thinking. But, COVID or not, with all the options available there’s no excuse not to vote.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

About Mel Rothenburger (7772 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on EDITORIAL – Mail-in voting soars but will it boost the turnout?

  1. Boost the turn out? I bet it will be another low or even lower turn out. There is a lot of cynicism out there.

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