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HST referendum cost less than expected: report

VICTORIA (NEWS1130) – We spent less than first predicted and a lot of ballots were thrown out, according to an Elections BC report released today on the HST referendum held earlier this year.

It will cost taxpayers just over $8 million for Elections BC’s role in the vote, but according to the organization that’s $1 million less than first thought.

Most of that cost comes from mailing out the three million voter packages.

Voter turn out was about 49 per cent.

Fifty-four per cent of the three million ballots sent out were submitted, but Anton Boegman with Elections BC says 38,000 ballots were not accepted because voters didn’t follow the directions.

“The majority of them did not meet the legislative requirements,” Boegman explains. “For example, the voter had to sign the certification envelope that was given out with their package. They also had to indicate their date of birth.”

Many scrambled to meet deadlines to get a voter package or to send one in.

There was a mid-July deadline to obtain a ballot and voters had to have that package submitted by the end of the day on Aug. 5.

Ballots received after that were not accepted.

At the time, News1130 reported that a lot of people tried to slip theirs under the door of a voting place.

Boegman partly blames last summer’s Canada Post strike for the confusion.

“In a mail-based referendum, obviously it’s a huge issue,” she says.

One thing the report did not examine was confusion surrounding the question itself, despite it being developed by Elections BC.

Eligible British Columbians voted 55 per cent in favour of scrapping the HST.

The results were made public on Aug. 26.