Chief Electoral Officer’s report on the 2020 Provincial General Election

6,517 voters cast their ballot by mail in 2017 — in 2020, 596,287 voters did so

THE Report of the Chief Electoral Officer on the 2020 Provincial General Election is now available.


The report describes Elections BC’s administration of British Columbia’s 42nd Provincial General Election. This was the first provincial election in B.C. held during a pandemic, and the province’s first unscheduled election since 2001. Necessary health and safety protocols, an unscheduled election call, and an unprecedented increase in voting by mail all made this election unlike any other administered by Elections BC.

The report highlights how voting places were adapted to ensure safe voting during COVID-19. Pandemic protocols were developed in consultation with the Office of the Provincial Health Officer, local health authorities and WorkSafeBC. There was no evidence of COVID-19 transmission at voting places or electoral offices during the election.

An unprecedented 596,287 voters cast their ballot by mail in 2020, a massive increase from the 6,517 voters who voted by mail in 2017. Of the 724,279 registered voters who requested a vote-by-mail package, 91.1% returned their voting package by the close of voting, or voted at another voting opportunity instead.

Voting in person was markedly different from past elections as well. Elections BC encouraged voters to vote at advance voting, to reduce crowds and lineups at voting places and help ensure physical distancing. For the first time, more voters voted before election day than on election day. Voter turnout by voting opportunity broke down as follows:

  • 35.4% voted at advance voting
  • 31.4% voted by mail
  • 28.8% voted at their assigned voting place on General Voting Day
  • 4.4% voted at other absentee voting opportunities

In total, 1,898,553 voters voted in the election – the second highest number of voters in B.C.’s electoral history, representing 53.9% of registered voters. In 2017, 1,986,374 voters voted, representing 61.2% of registered voters.

The cost of administering the election was $51.6 million, or $14.64 per registered voter. The 2017 election cost $39.5 million, or $12.15 per registered voter. The increase reflects the cost of procuring pandemic supplies, including personal protective equipment such as masks, hand sanitizer and acrylic barriers, increasing capacity for vote-by-mail, increased rental costs for voting places and district electoral offices, and wage increases for election officials.

The report also includes summaries of the Orders of the Chief Electoral Officer issued in relation to the election and the final Statement of Votes (also called voting results by voting area).