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Will a vote for 'Jon Hagen' count for John Horgan? Probably, says Elections BC

Last Updated Sep 30, 2020 at 2:57 pm PDT

Thousands of British Columbians are expected to vote by writing the name of a candidate or party on a mail-in ballot. (Courtesy Elections BC)
Summary

Misspelled write-in votes will count as long as 'intent is clear'

Voters can write the name of their preferred party or local candidate

Elections BC has received more than 450,000 requests for mail-in ballots

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – If you’re one of the thousands of British Columbians who plan on voting by mail in the provincial election, you need not worry about perfecting your spelling.

As of Wednesday morning, Elections BC reported receiving 454,000 requests for mail-in ballots – already doubling the roughly 200,000 who voted via the post in 2017.

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But the ballots currently being sent out do not provide voters with a list of candidates to choose from because official nominations have yet to close. Instead, voters are given a box in which to enter the name of a local candidate or party of their choice.

If you’re a couple letters off from the correct spelling, your vote will still count as long as your “intent is clear,” Elections BC spokesperson Andrew Watson said.

Vote counters will be given clear instructions to determine where the line between clear and unclear intent lies, he said.

“There are guidelines we have for election officials in terms of interpreting the markings on a write-in ballot,” he said.

So, if someone living in Langford-Juan de Fuca who wishes to re-elect NDP Leader John Horgan as their MLA writes “Jon Horgan,” their vote will almost certainly count.

Asked whether a vote for “Jon Hagen” would count, Watson said, “It’s always up to the election official to assess it at that point, but I think a spelling mistake like that wouldn’t be grounds for rejection.”

If you’re not certain about how to spell your preferred candidate’s name (or if you don’t know who’s representing your favourite party in your district), you can simply write a party name on your ballot and that, too, will count, he said.

Watson said party scrutineers will also have the opportunity to challenge decisions by election officials to accept or reject ballots. Challenged ballots will be reconsidered during potential recounts.

But not all mail-in ballots will require voters to write in their choice. After nominations close on Oct. 2 and candidate lists are finalized, Elections BC will begin sending out mail-in packages with “ordinary” ballots listing your local candidates and voters will just have to mark an X or check.

Mail-in ballots should be submitted no later than Oct. 17 to ensure they are received by Elections BC no later than 8 p.m. on election day, Oct. 24, Watson said.

“And the important reminder there is that we have to receive the completed package by that date. Voters can’t put it in the mail on Election Day.”