Victoria will have safe ways to vote, mail-in ballot measures due to COVID-19
Nine candidates are hoping to fill the vacant seat on Victoria’s city council. Voters can cast their ballots through advanced voting at Crystal Gardens, mail-in ballots, curbside voting, or by voting on election day at a polling station.
The seat was left vacant by Laurel Collins, after she left her municipal post to become a federal member of parliament. The by-election was set for spring 2020 but COVID-19 delayed it to December 12. The City of Victoria is recommending voters request mail-in ballots before Dec. 4.
Ahead of the Victoria by-election, the Martlet has produced this explainer with all of the key details on how to cast your vote. Things will be different this year, but there are still ample opportunities to cast your ballot safely.
Who can vote in Victoria’s by-election
To be eligible to vote in Victoria’s by-election, you have to either be a resident of Victoria or own property here. As of Dec. 12, voters must be 18 years or older, B.C. residents for six months, and residents of Victoria for 30 days. B.C. residents that have owned property in Victoria for at least 30 days can also vote. There is a separate registration form for non-resident property electors.
Victoria is one of many municipalities in the Capital Regional District. Other municipalities, like Oak Bay and Saanich, are sometimes referred to as part of Victoria, however, these places have their own city councils. To vote in the by-election, residents must live in the actual municipality of Victoria.
If you are already on the voters list, you don’t need to register — just bring one piece of government-issued identification that has your signature on it. If you need to register to vote, you’ll have to bring two pieces of identification with you to the polling station.
How to vote by mail-in ballot
Requesting a mail-in ballot needs to be done early so that the ballot can be sent your way in time. The ballots have to be received before 8pm on Dec. 12.
Requesting your mail-in ballot early will ensure it gets mailed right to your house, as ballots requested after Dec. 4 will need to be picked up at City Hall.
You can either drop off your ballot at a polling station or mail it in. There will also be a mail-in ballot drop box set up outside of the Pandora St. entrance to City Hall. The City recommends mailing your ballot by Dec. 4 to ensure it reaches them on time.
Polling stations and hours
There are eight opportunities for advanced voting ahead of the Dec. 12 election date. Advanced voting is at Crystal Gardens on:
• Tuesday, December 1, 9 a.m.– 4 p.m.
• Wednesday, December 2, 8 a.m.– 8 p.m.
• Thursday, December 3, 9 a.m.– 4 p.m.
• Friday, December 4, 9 a.m.– 4 p.m.
• Saturday, December 5, 9 a.m.– 4 p.m.
• Monday, December 7, 8 a.m.– 8 p.m.
• Tuesday, December 8, 9 a.m.– 4 p.m.
• Wednesday, December 9, 9 a.m.– 4 p.m.
When election day rolls around, people in Victoria can head to one of the eight polling places. A full map is available in the City of Victoria’s voting guide.
Accessible and safe voting in Victoria’s by-election
Of course, this by-election will be unique. The City of Victoria has put various COVID-19 safety measures in place. For instance, everyone will feed their own ballot into an electronic voting machine. Anyone that is self-isolating or ill is expected to stay home, and can request a mail-in ballot or call the City’s staff at (250) 361-0571.
For those with accessibility concerns, curbside voting is available for advanced and election day voters. At the voting station, there will be a designated parking spot and a number to call on a sign. By-election staff will come to the voter’s car so they can cast their ballot.
Another accessible way to vote is by using one of the accessible electronic voting machines. There will be headphones and selection devices available. The City of Victoria assures voters that all of the machines will be sanitized between voters.