Voters in Saanich North and the Islands, here lining up outside Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre on the first day of advanced voting, are among the provincial leaders in getting in their votes early, with some 20 per cent (10,174) of eligible voters have already cast their ballots. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Voters in Saanich North and the Islands, here lining up outside Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre on the first day of advanced voting, are among the provincial leaders in getting in their votes early, with some 20 per cent (10,174) of eligible voters have already cast their ballots. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

It’s Election Day in B.C.: Here’s what you need to know to vote

B.C.’s snap election has already broken records for advance voter turnout, mail-in ballots

It’s officially Election Day in B.C.’s 2020 provincial snap election.

First called in September by B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan, BC Votes 2020 is likely going to be one for the history books, already seeing a number of records broken when it comes to voter turnout.

Roughly 681,000 people cast their ballot during the seven days of advanced voting that ended Wednesday, compared to 614,389 in 2017.

Meanwhile, 478,900 returned vote-by-mail packages had been received by Elections BC by Oct. 22, representing 66 per cent of the packages requested.

In Kootenay East, voters were well and truly out in droves, with roughly a third of voters voting early or requesting mail-in ballots.

READ MORE: Kootenay East voters out in droves already

It is expected that some ridings will see preliminary results as to which candidate will likely take a seat in the B.C. Legislature by the end of day Saturday. Meanwhile, close races will have to wait until mid-November for the winner to be declared, once mail-in ballots are counted by Elections BC officials after Nov. 6.

Haven’t voted? Here’s what you need to know:

Polling locations:

Voting places will be available from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. today.

Elkford: Teck Hall, 750 Fording Dr

Elko: Elko Community Hall, 5445 Bate Ave

Fernie: Fernie Community Centre, 901 6th Ave

Hosmer: Hosmer Community Centre, 7431 6th Ave

Sparwood: Sparwood Rec Centre – Curling Rink, 367 Pine Ave

Sparwood: Sparwood Senior’s Centre, 101 4th Ave

Candidates running in Kootenay East:

Voters in the Elk Valley have three candidates to pick from in the provincial election, with the area falling under the Kootenay East riding, which includes Cranbrook.

Previous MLA, Tom Shypitka of the BC Liberals is re-contesting the seat, which he held between 2017 and 2020. The BC Liberals have held Kootenay East since 2001.

CANDIDATE INTERVIEW: Shypitka lists priorities as wilflife and land access, health and education

Contesting the seat for the NDP is Wayne Stetski, who voters will know as the former federal MP for Kootenay-Columbia, which overlaps with the provincial riding of Kootenay East. Stetski, who held the federal seat between 2017 and 2019, has also served as the Mayor of Cranbrook.

CANDIDATE INTERVIEW: NDPs Wayne Stetski hits the ground running

For the BC Greens, Fernie’s Kerri Wall has been nominated to challenge the seat. Wall has taken a leave of absence from her work with Interior Health, where she works in the Healthy Communities Program.

CANDIDATE INTERVIEW: Fernie’s Kerri Wall contests Kootenay East for BC Greens

Voter registration:

While eligible voters don’t have to register ahead of time to take part in the election, Elections BC recommends British Columbians sign up ahead of time in order to avoid lengthy lineups.

Voters can register or update their information online at elections.bc.ca/ovr or by calling 1-800-661-8683. Registration closed on Sept. 26.

To be eligible, British Columbians must be able to show one of the following pieces of identification:

  • A B.C. driver’s licence
  • A B.C. Identification Card
  • A B.C. Services Card, with photo
  • A Certificate of Indian Status
  • Another card issued by the B.C. government, or Canada, that shows your name, photo and address

Health rules for voting during COVID-19:

All voting places and district electoral offices will have protective measures in place, including:

  • 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
  • Election workers trained on safe workplace guidelines and pandemic protocols

– with files from Ashley Wadhwani

BC politicsBC Votes 2020