Editorial: Getting ready to vote in 2020

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British Columbians may not have wanted or needed an election in 2020, but now that it’s here, please take the time to vote.

Despite the cautions related to COVID-19 hampering most activities that take place indoors, voting could in fact be easier this year: That’s if people take the time to learn about and take advantage of the options available.

People can already vote at district electoral offices throughout the province on Mondays through Saturdays. (A list of office addresses with more details is posted at elections.bc.ca.)

More advance voting dates have been promised this time, which will reduce the potential for crowded conditions at polling booths. While exact dates have not yet been released, Elections BC has indicated that advance polls could be open from Thursday, Oct. 15 through Wednesday, Oct. 21. The general voting day is on Saturday, Oct. 24.

A third option that requires swifter action is voting by mail. A vote-by-mail package can be requested by calling Elections BC at 1-800-661-8683, or through the elections.bc.ca website. People should read what information is needed before making the request, as ID numbers from one piece of government identification must be provided.

Qualified voters must request the vote-by-mail package in time to return the ballot by Oct. 24. Elections BC recommends that package requests be made by Oct. 17 to ensure adequate turn-around time. 

Voter qualifications remain the same as in past elections. Individuals must be 18 years or older by Oct. 24, a Canadian citizen, and have been a B.C. resident for the past six months as of Oct. 24.

Islanders who are used to attending an all-candidates meeting might be disappointed that COVID-19 has derailed that tradition. Thankfully the Salt Spring Forum has stepped up to arrange an online version with links through its website. As of Monday the forum had confirmed participation from the NDP, Liberal and Green candidates for the Saanich North and the Islands riding. People can check out the forum’s website for all the details about the Oct. 14 event and even send in their questions for candidates.

Democracy only works with a healthy level of participation. Don’t let apathy or the fear of COVID-19 become a reason to not vote in person or by mail this month.

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