TORONTO – With nearly one million voters mailing their 2021 ballots, Canadians may have to wait longer than usual to find out who will form the next government.
According to latest dataa From Elections Canada, nearly 1.3 million mail-in ballots were sent to voters this year, and 951,039 were returned as of Monday morning. However, this number was expected to increase as mail-in ballots could be returned until the close of voting.
With the 2021 election coming up amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, Elections Canada prepared for 2 million to 3 million mail-in votes. While the final number of mail-in ballots requested is much lower than that, it is orders of magnitude more than the 50,000 mail-in votes cast in 2019.
The makeup of mail-in ballots also reflects the impact of the pandemic, as nearly 80 percent of mail-in ballots requested – 782,310 at last count – are opposed by voters casting ballots from within their rides. Voters outside their ride or for foreign voters.
However, despite extensive preparation, mail-in ballots promise to extend the normal timeline for counting votes.
This is because mail-in ballots cast from within the voter’s ride are subject to an ‘integrity check’, which verifies that the outer envelope has been signed and that the voter has, among other measures, taken in person. Haven’t voted either. Because of this verification requirement, the counting of those votes will not begin until Tuesday at the earliest.
Such checks are not required for voters from other countries, or for voters in captivity or members of the military who cast their votes, as there is no need to verify that those voters also voted in person. Or not. In such a situation, their votes can be counted before the voting on Monday.
A spokesman for Elections Canada told Granthshala.ca last week that the counting process for mail-in ballots could take two to five days to finish.
This can delay the result in close rides. It may also delay a clearer picture of who will form the next government, although that result is usually stated well before the counting of votes is over.