Voting day: Elk Valley braves the cold to vote for next MLA

Today is the last chance for voters to have their say

The final rush on the polls is happening today – if you can call it a rush that is.

More than a third of registered voters in Kootenay East have already voting by advance voting or mail-in ballots, and given that turnout in Kootenay East was 55 per cent in 2017, it could mean that of those who plan to vote at all, less than half will vote today.

Temperatures are low throughout the valley, clocking in at -8 in Fernie and Sparwood at mid-day, though that should be unlikely to drive voters away.

BC Greens candidate Kerri Wall was voting in Fernie this morning along with her son. Wall is based in Fernie, while Tom Shypitka of the BC Liberals and Wayne Stetski of the BC NDP are based out of Cranbrook.

Complete results of the election are unlikely to be known until weeks in the future, as mail-in ballots will not be counting until at least 13 days afterwards. In Kootenay East, 3,236 voters requested mail-in ballots, while provincially more than 700,000 voters requested mail-in ballots.

While mail-in ballot requests represent 10 percent of eligible voters in Kootenay East, in some parts of the province more than a quarter of voters opted to vote by mail.

Andrew Watson, communications director for Elections BC, told Black Press Media that “safe voting has been the focus” during this snap election.

“Voters can feel confident in the process we’ve put in place,” he said, noting that staff have all been given personal protective equipment to wear, hand sanitizing stations are set up for voters and everyone is encouraged to wear a mask while casting their ballot – though it’s not mandatory.

He added that while turnout was steady through the morning, the “record turnout” for advanced voting and vote-by-mail meant that fewer people were voting on Election Day. No long lines or other issues were reported at polling stations through the morning.

“Please get out and vote,” Watson said, noting that anyone who requires assistance with finding their polling station or any other step in the voting process can contact Elections BC directly at 1-800-661-8683.

Polling places in the Elk Valley are open until 9pm Mountain Time. There are six polling places open today, listed below.

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

With files from Devon Bidal

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

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