by Dale Burgos
The year 2020 will surely be one of those times that we look back on for years to come. Everyone will have their own opinions and memories. Many will feel happy that this year is almost over. Others will remember being quarantined or living in isolation for months on end. Phrases such as “unprecedented” and “challenging times” will always remind us of this year.
Sadly, we’ve lost so many due to the COVD-19 pandemic, by last count, approximately 1.15 million around the world have been confirmed dead due to the novel coronavirus. One of those was a relative of mine living in The Philippines. Rest in Peace Tito Obet.
For me, 2020 will also be a year that I, and millions of others, voted during a pandemic. Last month, B.C. Premier John Horgan (NDP) called a snap election. The province was due for one next year, but it was thought that if we held one now, the government could move forward and prepare for the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Economy, health and perseverance were top-of-mind for our leadership.
In 2017, the B.C. NDP won a minority government and with the help of the Green Party had edged out the Liberals to take control. After only a few weeks of campaigning, the NDP won a majority of seats in the provincial legislature by gaining a number of seats.
At the time of writing this article, it was reported that the B.C. NDP won the election, but we are still waiting for official numbers, as the mail-in ballots still need to be counted.
I was one of those many who voted by mail. It wasn’t new this year; it’s always been an option. I knew I didn’t want to stand in line at a polling station, so this was my best option to exercise my right to vote. In total, from registering online to filling out my ballot, it was a total of less than three minutes of my time. I think this is the way I’ll do it from now on!
I wasn’t alone. In any typical year, there are approximately 10,000 mail-in ballot requests in B.C. This year that number of requests jumped to over 700,000! The process was simple; I registered on the Elections B.C. web site. I entered my personal information and within a week, I received my ballot. The instructions were clear. I put my ballot in the self-addressed envelope and dropped it in my community mailbox.
This election campaign pales in comparison to what is happening below the border where it feels like they’ve been campaigning for years! I much prefer the Canadian campaign periods, much shorter. It’s like we’re too polite to bother people for long periods. So Canadian of us, eh?
And while I can’t vote in the U.S. election, I, like many around the world, watch with bated breath as what happens in the States can directly affect governments around the world. I read an article today that a record 60 million Americans have already voted in advance of the election on November 3.
Depending on when you read this, we very well could know who is the American president. Did Trump stay or is Biden the President-Elect? How many voted by mail? Are they still counting the ballots? Is there now a legal battle over who actually won? I have so many questions! We will find out soon enough.
Which brings me to my final question. Did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the election? In B.C., it is widely accepted that the NDP’s handling of the pandemic was exemplary. Premier Horgan allowed the province’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, make decisions that would affect over five million people across Canada’s most western province. We fared well and while there are COVID cases being reported each day, we realize that it could have been much worse. The pandemic didn’t stop people from voting in person or by mail.
As for down south? As I said, a record amount of people voted ahead of time. It didn’t appear that the pandemic slowed them down at all. It will be interesting to see what the U.S. government looks like once the dust settles. Who’s taking bets?
Dale manages the communications department for a school district in B.C.