Don’t expect to know the outcome of Canada’s federal election right away; Elections Canada anticipating more mail-in ballots

Most districts should have results returned within two days, some areas could wait five

As with all things during the pandemic, the upcoming federal election will seem a little different from years previous. Elections Canada is expecting more voters to opt for a mail-in ballot.

Stéphane Perrault, Canada’s chief electoral officer, said on Wednesday that due to anticipated dependence on voting by mail, results might not be available for a few days after the election. “I know that Canadians are used to getting complete results on election night, but it will be different for this election,” he said. “The count of mail-in ballots will start after election day.”

“If the volume of mail-in ballots is high, as we’ve seen in other jurisdictions during the pandemic, it will take longer for returning officers to count those ballots,” added Perrault. “In most locations, this should be done within two days while in some districts, it could take as long as five days, depending on the volume and the distribution.”

While Perrault is anticipating an increased dependence on mail-in ballots, he points out that voting by mail has been a longstanding option. “In fact, Canadians have been voting by mail, even locally, since 1993.”

Those who choose to vote by mail are encouraged to register to do so as early as possible. “They should leave enough time for their voter kit to get to them and for them to return it to Elections Canada by Election Day,” commented Perrault. Applying online to vote by mail is the fastest way to receive a voter kit, while traditional mail-in applications will also be made available to those without internet access.

Perrault points out those who are concerned their mail-in ballot will not arrive at Elections Canada in time are permitted to drop it off at their local polling station on Election Day.

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