Voting is an important part of our democratic process. It is a chance, for every eligible person to influence the policies that affect our lives on a daily basis. With only a simple mark on a ballot, voting lets us decide who our representatives will be and what our future will look like. The right to vote is protected by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms and is one of our country’s most cherished institutions.
B.C. was the first province in Canada to establish fixed election dates. Provincial general elections are to take place on the second Tuesday in May every four years.
To Find The Nearest Voting Location Click Here.
To Check The Voters List Click Here.
Voting eligibility requirements
In order to vote in an election for an electoral district, an individual must:
be a Canadian citizen;
be 18 years of age or older on General Voting Day for the election;
be a resident of the electoral district;
have been a resident of British Columbia for at least 6 months immediately before General Voting Day for the election;
be registered as a voter for the electoral district or register as such in conjunction with voting; and
not be disqualified by the Election Act or any other enactment from voting in the election or be otherwise disqualified by law.
Under the Election Act, voters must prove their identity and residential address in order to receive a ballot or register to vote in conjunction with voting in a provincial general election or by-election. Voters may present identification, or use a process known as vouching. Some acceptable types of identification and information on the vouching process are found below.
Voters may provide:
A single document issued by the Government of B.C. or Canada that contains the voter’s name, photograph and residential address, such as a B.C. driver’s licence, B.C. Identification Card (BCID), or B.C. Services Card
A Certificate of Indian Status as issued by the Government of Canada
Two documents that together show the voter’s name and residential address. Both documents must show the voter’s name. At least one of the documents must also contain the voter’s residential address.
Please note: Digital or electronic documents (e.g. e-bills) are acceptable. Hand-written information on a document, photocopies or electronic scans/photos of a paper document are not acceptable.
The following are examples of the document types authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer for the purposes of voter identification (the list of documents is illustrative, not exhaustive). Other specific documents (not listed below) may be authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer. For questions about the acceptability of a specific document, please contact Elections BC.
Government-issued identity documents
Examples: healthcare card, birth certificate, Social Insurance Card, passport, citizenship document/certificate, Old Age Security Identification Card, Canadian Forces identification, Firearm Acquisition Certificate, firearm Possession and Acquisition Licence, Veterans Affairs Canada Health Care Identification Card, Correctional Service Canada Offender Identification Card
Other government-issued documents
Examples: property tax assessment, income tax assessment notice, government cheque, government cheque stub, statement of employment insurance benefits paid, Canada Child Tax Benefit Statement, statement of Canada Pension Plan benefits, statement of Old Age Security
Examples: admissions letter, report card, transcript, residence acceptance/confirmation, tuition/fees statement, student card
Provincial Where to Vote card
Bank/credit card or statement
Residential lease/mortgage statement
Public transportation pass
Prescription medication container
Attestation of residence
Personal cheque (printed by bank)
Voters without the necessary identification can be vouched for by a voter in their electoral district who does have the necessary ID, a direct family member or someone who has legal authority to make personal care decisions for the voter.
The voucher must be one of the following:
registered as a voter in the same electoral district and able to produce the necessary identification documents
a spouse, parent, grandparent, or adult child, grandchild or sibling of the voter
a person having authority to make personal care decisions in respect of the applicant
Power of Attorney does not give an individual authority to make personal care decisions for another person. To establish that a person has authority under the common law or an enactment to make personal care decisions for a voter as required under the Election Act, the voucher must make a solemn declaration that they have either:
1. An order of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, naming the voucher and stating that the voucher has been appointed as:
a) a ‘Committee’ to manage the person of the applicant under the Patients Property Act of British Columbia; or
b) a person with the authority to make personal care decisions in respect of the applicant without reference to any statute or regulation.
2. A valid Representation Agreement currently in effect, naming the voucher as a representative or monitor of the applicant under the Representation Agreement Act of British Columbia.
Both the voter and the voucher must each make a solemn declaration as to the voter’s identity and place of residence. A voucher who is not the voter’s relative or personal care authority may only vouch for one voter. A relative may vouch for any voters who are members of their family. A personal care authority may vouch for all voters over which they have written authority. A voter who has been vouched for may not vouch for any other voter at that election.
Where to vote
The Chief Electoral Officer must arrange for notice regarding voting opportunities to be given to voters by one or more of the following methods:
– mailing to individual voters a notice indicating where they are entitled to vote (Where to Vote information cards);
– publishing notice in newspapers or other media;
– providing a central telephone information service (1-800).
Nearest Voting Locations
Voters who meet the eligibility requirements may vote in an election under one of the following opportunities:
General Voting Day – Voting hours on General Voting Day are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Pacific time.
– Advance voting – Advance voting is held from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (local time) on the Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday of the week preceding General Voting Day. Advance voting is available to any voter and all advance voting places are wheelchair accessible.
– Absentee Voting – Voters who are unable to attend their assigned voting place on General Voting Day, or the advance voting place(s) in their electoral district of residence, may vote at any other voting place in the province.
– Alternative Absentee Voting
An individual may vote by alternative absentee voting if:
– they expect to be absent from British Columbia on General Voting Day
– they have a physical disability, illness or injury or their mobility is impaired, or
– they will be in a location that is remote from a voting place, or will be unable to attend a voting place because of weather or other environmental conditions or for another reason beyond the individual’s control.
Voters who meet any one of these qualifications can vote in one of B.C.’s 91 district electoral offices, or vote by mail using a voting package.
– Voting in the district electoral office: Voting in district electoral offices between when an election is called and 4 p.m. (Pacific time) on General Voting Day.
– Vote by Mail: All B.C. voters may ask for a Vote by Mail package until 4 p.m. (Pacific time) on General Voting Day (May 14, 2013) by calling Elections BC at 1-800-661-8683, or by calling or visiting any district electoral office. Each Vote by Mail package includes instructions, a ballot, and the envelopes necessary to return the marked ballot and to protect the secrecy of the vote. Important: Completed voting packages must be returned to the issuing district electoral office before 8 p.m. (Pacific time) on General Voting Day. Packages received after that time will not be counted.
– Special Voting – The District Electoral Officer may establish special voting opportunities to assist eligible voters who wish to vote but are unable to attend a regular voting place on General Voting Day because they are in a hospital, mental health facility, remote community or work camp, long-term care facility or correctional centre.
Voters needing assistance
Assistance is available to voters unable to mark a ballot because of a physical disability or difficulty with reading or writing. A Voting Officer or friend of the voter may mark the voter’s ballot in accordance with the wishes of the voter. If the voter is assisted by a friend, the friend must take an oath of secrecy. A template is available at all voting places to allow voters who are visually impaired to mark their own ballots if they so choose.
For further information on Elections BC’s accessibility services, please view our Meeting Your Needs video for voters with disabilities.
Voters needing a translator
The use of a translator is permitted if the voter has difficulty with the English language. In areas with large populations of voters who may need translators, District Electoral Officers attempt to hire election officials who are fluent in the language of the local community.
Time off from work for voting
Right to time off
Section 74 of the Election Act establishes that any employee who is entitled to vote is entitled to have four consecutive hours free from employment during voting hours on General Voting Day for the purpose of voting. Voting hours on General Voting Day are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Pacific time.
This does not necessarily mean four hours off from work. It means that there must be a four hour period of no work during the time the voting places are open. It is up to the employer to decide when their employees can take time off work to vote. Time off may be at the beginning or end of an employee’s shift, or unnecessary if normal working hours already provide the necessary time free from employment. For example, if a shift ends at 4 p.m., or does not begin until noon, the employee is not entitled to any time off.
It is an offence for an employer to take any deduction from an employee’s pay, or exact any other penalty, for time off for voting. The employee is entitled to their regular compensation for those hours not worked while voting.
Four days of advance voting are available to all voters during the week before general voting. Advance voting is from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (local time) on the Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday before general voting. Use of advance voting and cooperation between employers and employees will ensure that all individuals have the opportunity to vote without disrupting business operations.
Employers and employees are encouraged to discuss how staff may exercise their right to vote to ensure that the requirements of the Act are being met.
Section 74 does provide exceptions to the general rule. For example, if the voters are in such a remote location that they would be unable to reasonably reach any voting place during voting hours, they are not entitled to time off.
What to do if your employer is refusing to provide time off
If your employer does not provide you with the necessary time off for voting, you may contact Elections BC. Elections BC will phone the employer or fax a letter to them outlining their obligations under the Act. You must provide us with the name, address, phone number and/or fax number of the employer.
Failure to comply
Failure to comply with section 74 is an offence and, upon conviction, an employer may be liable to a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for a term not longer than 1 year, or both.
Contraventions of the Act should be reported in writing to the Chief Electoral Officer.