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Fewer than half of ballots returned in B.C.'s electoral reform referendum

Last Updated Dec 7, 2018 at 1:05 pm PDT

FILE: The 2018 Referendum on Electoral Reform package and mail in ballot from Elections B.C. is pictured in North Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward)

VICTORIA — An advocate for maintaining the first-past-the-post voting system in British Columbia questions whether residents really care about electoral reform, given voter turnout figures released on the final day of the referendum.

Elections BC says it has received 41 per cent of eligible ballots in the mail-in referendum, which asks voters whether they would prefer to keep the existing electoral system or move to a form of proportional representation.

RELATED: Still holding on to that voting package? Referendum ballots due today

Ballots can be returned by mail or in person at a Referendum Service Office of Service BC Centre, and those received before 4:30 p.m. today will be counted.

Bill Tieleman of the group “Vote No to Pro Rep” says voter turnout is lower than two previous referendums on the topic in 2005 and 2009, which he says suggests the vote was unnecessary.

RELATED: It’s a close race, poll finds B.C. voters still split on electoral reform

Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, who supports proportional representation, says if civic election results are accepted when turnout is lower than 41 per cent, then these results should also be accepted.

Weaver says he won’t dispute the results, whether they land in his favour or not.

Elections BC says it will take several weeks to process the ballots but it’s hoping to release the result of the vote before Christmas.