Deadline nears for HST voting

Elections BC is keeping its call centre open until midnight Friday, the deadline for B.C. residents to register and request a voting package for the harmonized sales tax referendum.

Elections BC official Anton Boegman shows the mailing envelope for a vote in the HST referendum. B.C. residents have until midnight Friday to request a package.

VICTORIA – Elections BC is keeping its call centre open until midnight Friday, the deadline for B.C. residents to register and request a voting package for the harmonized sales tax referendum.

The call centre at 1-800-661-8683 has been operating from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to handle requests from people who didn’t receive their personalized voting package in the mail. That has been extended to 10 p.m. tonight and midnight Friday.

Elections BC has been kept busy with requests from people who weren’t registered as B.C. voters, have moved or otherwise had incorrect information on the voters’ list, or lost their packages after delivery. A few of three million voting packages mailed in recent weeks have had errors in printing or missing elements.

All voters who contact the call centre up to the deadline will be registered, even if they are kept waiting on hold until after midnight, Elections BC spokesman Don Main says. Phone registration takes three to five minutes.

NDP MLA Maurine Karagianis sent a letter to Elections BC Thursday asking for faster response from the phone service. She said MLAs around the province are hearing from constituents that they can’t get through.

Karagianis also urged acting Chief Electoral Officer Craig James to stop disqualifying ballot envelopes where voters have mixed up the numbers in their date of birth. To be eligible, each ballot must be received in an envelope that bears the signature and date of birth of the voter.

After a labour dispute at Canada Post delayed distribution, Elections BC extended its deadline for receiving completed ballots until Aug. 5 at 4:30 p.m.

Mail delivery takes between three and seven days, with longer delivery times for northern and remote locations.