There were no lines or just minimal waits at most polling stations in Chilliwack throughout the day, Oct. 24, 2020, including this one at First Avenue Church in the Chilliwack riding. (Jessica Peters/ Chilliwack Progress)

There were no lines or just minimal waits at most polling stations in Chilliwack throughout the day, Oct. 24, 2020, including this one at First Avenue Church in the Chilliwack riding. (Jessica Peters/ Chilliwack Progress)

Polling stations quiet in Chilliwack on voting day

Unprecedented number of voters chose to vote early or mail in their ballots, says Elections BC

There was little to no wait at polling stations across Chilliwack and Chilliwack-Kent on election day.

At First Avenue Church in Chilliwack, green painters tape marks the long walkway to the side entrance of the building. Each one is two metres apart. But there is no lineup outside. Voters pull up in their vehicles and walk right in. Moments later, they’re done.

It was a similar story outside polling stations all across B.C. But it doesn’t mean the province is seeing a low voter turnout. It’s a reflection of holding the election during a pandemic.

Andrew Watson, communications director for Elections BC, told Black Press Media that “safe voting has been the focus” during this snap election. In addition to the mail-in voting, polling stations are following all of the safety protocol people have become familiar with.

“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.

The Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley woke up to strong winds, but not enough to prompt a weather warning from Environment Canada. That’s led to power outages throughout the area. One of the largest is affecting 4,447 customers in Langley and Surrey. Chilliwack has only had pockets of power outages throughout the day, and none had been reported at polling stations as of 2 p.m.

READ MORE: Thousands without power in Lower Mainland on election day

READ MORE: Opioid crisis top of mind for Chilliwack youth during Student Vote event

Due to the pandemic, more British Columbians have decided to vote by mail-in ballot than ever before. Election results won’t be finalized until after Nov. 6., after those mail-in ballots are counted. An estimated 5,809 number of mail-in ballots were requested by Elections BC within the Chilliwack riding, and 7,650 in Chilliwack-Kent. There are 37,676 registered voters in Chilliwack and 43,698 in Chilliwack-Kent.

Across B.C., a total of 478,900 mail-in ballots were returned to Election BC, as of Friday, Oct. 22.

There are roughly 3.5 million registered voters in the province.


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

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