Millions of HST ballots ready to mail

Assistant chief electoral officer Anton Boegman shows postage-paid envelopes voters will use to mail HST referendum ballots in to be counted.

VICTORIA – If they’re not delayed by a strike at Canada Post, more than three million voting packages will be sent out in mid-June so B.C. voters can have their say on the harmonized sales tax.

Voting packages will be sent out the week of June 13 to Vancouver Island and B.C. Interior locations, Elections BC officials said in a media briefing Monday. Packages will be mailed to Lower Mainland homes the week of June 20, in an effort to have all delivered by June 24.

Canada Post employees have given notice that they may go on strike by Friday. If a strike disrupts the province-wide ballot on the HST, Elections BC will extend its return period as necessary to give voters time to consider the choice.

Assuming no disruption in postal service, ballots must be completed and returned to Elections BC by July 22. They can be mailed in or returned to one of 60 Service BC offices around the province.

Assistant chief electoral officer Anton Boegman said Elections BC has allowed until Aug. 25 to count and verify every returned ballot, and announce a decision.

Voters will mark a ballot yes or no to the referendum question: “Are you in favour of extinguishing the HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) and reinstating the PST (Provincial Sales Tax) in conjunction with the GST (Goods and Services Tax)?

The ballots are to be marked and placed in a privacy envelope. That envelope goes inside a registration envelope that voters must sign and fill in their date of birth. That envelope goes into a postage-paid return envelope to be mailed or dropped off at a Service BC location.

Elections BC is also setting up five collection centres for ballots in the Lower Mainland, at Capilano Mall in North Vancouver, City Square Shopping Centre in Vancouver, Lougheed Town Centre in Burnaby, Semiahmoo Shopping Centre in Surrey and Willowbrook Shopping Centre in Langley.

Surrey North Delta Leader

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