Well, that was an interesting couple of days, wasn’t it? No one can say we didn’t know it was coming, even if it was earlier than expected, and there was endless online chatter about it during and after the event, as well as drama, excitement, and a few surprises.
Yes, the heavy snowfall on Oct. 23 was quite the thing. Oh, and there was a provincial election as well, which — like a zombie that hasn’t been properly dispatched — promises to keep shuffling across the landscape for the next two weeks, until the hundreds of thousands of mail-in and absentee ballots are counted sometime after Nov. 6. Elections BC had started planning some streamlined processes for this, given that COVID-19 is likely to be with us for a while and mail-in ballots will probably be a big factor in future elections, at least for the foreseeable future. However, their planning was predicated on the next provincial election happening at its scheduled time — October 2021 — so the snap call for this October left them with no time to put the new systems in place.
Much was made, in the run-up to the election, of the record number of British Columbians who elected to receive a mail-in ballot package, thus allowing them to eschew going to a polling station. More than 700,000 voters requested a package, and it seems that around 70 per cent of them returned it by the deadline of 8 p.m. on Oct. 24, although the final numbers are yet to be determined.
That number — 70 per cent — is pretty good as far as voter turnout goes, which is why it’s disappointing to see that even with so many people opting for the mail-in option, overall voter turnout for this election will probably struggle to get much above the 52 per cent mark. Turn that around, and it means that 48 per cent of eligible voters in B.C. didn’t vote.
There may well be some people who simply could not make it to a polling station, either on any of the advance days (of which there were more this year than ever before) or on Oct. 24; the aforementioned heavy snowfall may have made it difficult for some people to get out on Saturday to vote. There might also be good reasons why people who could not (or did not want to) go to a polling station didn’t opt to get a mail-in ballot package instead. John Horgan announced the snap election on Sept. 21, so there was plenty of time. Indeed, Elections BC announced that on that day, more than 6,000 people requested packages, even before they knew who was running in their riding.
So almost 50 per cent of the people who had the democratic, and hard-fought-for, right to vote didn’t bother. And before you argue “But one vote doesn’t matter!” I’ll counter with “Every vote matters.” When you put 1.7 million of them together, they matter quite a lot, and have the power to change history.
Speaking of the snowfall, it seems somehow typical of 2020 that Mother Nature appears to have given Halloween a miss and gone straight to Christmas. That’s a shame, as Halloween is in many ways my favourite holiday, and the 2020 version was already set to be somewhat on the subdued side. In order to get into the spirit, I watched one of my favourite seasonal treats from days gone by: Ichabod Crane’s spooky ride home through Sleepy Hollow, from the 1949 Disney animated film The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.
The episode was a staple of The Wonderful World of Disney on the Sunday before Halloween when I was growing up; I looked forward to it each year, and the decades have not diminished it one iota. It packs more cinematic inventiveness, clever misdirection, and sheer spookiness into just over three minutes than many full-length films manage, and it’s guaranteed to enthrall and delight the whole family. Check it out at https://bit.ly/35yvqVS if you’ve never seen it, or even if you have. Happy Halloween!