Elections Canada officials are preparing to accept mailed-in ballots a day after polls close, should an election be held in 2021.
Speaking in the House of Commons, and shared by Blacklock's Reporter, Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu said that with regard to counting ballots after the polls had closed, “many returning officers” told her that the mailed ballots would be accepted after polls closed on a Monday election.
“They think they will count them if they show up by Tuesday,” Gladu said.
Under the current rules outlined in the Canada Elections Act, a vote must be received by the close of polling to be counted. The Liberals, however, are angling to modify the Act through Bill C-19, An Act To Amend The Canada Elections Act, which would grant permission for returning officers to count ballots after polls had closed.
While just over 49,500 mail-in ballots were counted for the 2019 election — generally from those in the military or Canadian citizens living in other countries — the government is anticipating a massive increase in mail-in voting for a potential 2021 election, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Explaining the necessity to circulate five million mail-in ballots, Privy Council President and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc said in a letter to the House that “voting by mail would be a key aspect of running a fair election during the pandemic,” while pointing to the “ongoing uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and the myriad ways it could unexpectedly affect the rights of electors to vote safely.”
In British Columbia, where a snap election was held late last year, the province saw a 100-fold increase in mail-in vote requests, bringing the total to 700,000. During the 2017 campaign in the province, just 6,500 requests were received.
Because of the laws in the province, and alongside the sheer number of mail-in votes received, election results were delayed for weeks while counting took place. Results from Newfoundland and Labrador, which also held a provincial election during the pandemic, are currently still mired in controversy.