Craig James is B.C.'s acting Chief Electoral Officer.

HST referendum deadline now Aug. 5

Two-week extension in response to postal service delays

B.C. voters will get an extra two weeks to decide the fate of the harmonized sales tax.

Acting Chief Electoral Officer Craig James has extended the HST referendum deadline to compensate for mail delivery delays stemming from the Canada Post labour dispute.

The delay had been requested by NDP leader Adrian Dix, who called the extension a victory for the democratic process.

Ballots that had been due back July 22 must now be returned to Elections BC by 4:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5.

Eligible voters who are not on the voters list will now get until July 22 to request a voting package.

The ballot packages came with a postage-paid envelope, but voters can also choose to directly return their ballots to a Service BC or Elections BC collection centre by Aug. 5. (Locations listed at www.elections.bc.ca)

Elections BC says voters should receive their voting packages by July 7.

Results of the referendum may not be known until September.

Voters are asked to vote ‘Yes’ if they want to eliminate the 12-per-cent HST and return to the combination of the five per cent GST and seven per cent provincial sales tax. They’re to vote ‘No’ if they want to keep the HST.

The province, in an effort to rally more support to retain the tax, has pledged to lower the rate to 10 per cent by 2014.

It will also send out additional one-time rebate cheques for low-income seniors and families with children.