This is when we will know the election results in Canada
When will we know the election results in Canada following today's big vote?
It's a question on more minds than usual this time around thanks to changes that have made 2021 unlike any other election year to date.
You see, Canada's 44th general election — called in a snap by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last month for today, Sept. 20 — is the first to take place since our world changed back in early 2020, transforming the way we all use physical space for large, in-person gatherings.
The thought of cramming into a packed condo lobby or elementary school gym is even less appealing than it used to be with a fourth wave now active in Ontario and other provinces.
Many voters have in fact chosen to forgo polling stations altogether in favour of mailing in their ballots. The problem is that we don't know exactly how many people have done this, or have done it properly.
According to Elections Canada, more than one million special ballot voting kits were issued to people in their own ridings across Canada ahead of today's election — significantly more than the roughly 50,000 issued in 2019.
Of those local voting kits that went out for the 2021 election, only 782,310 had been recieved back by Elections Canada as of Monday morning.
And here's the real kicker: None of those votes will be counted until at least Tuesday, once all of today's in-person votes are tabulated at the polling stations.
"The returning office has to go through a set of verifications before they even open a ballot envelope to put it in the box," said Elections Canada spokesperson Diane Benson to CBC News of the procedure, noting that officials need to ensure anyone who voted by mail didn't also vote in person at a polling station.
Bension says the full election results could thus be ready by Wednesday... or Thursday... or Friday... it all "depends on the volume and it depends on how long it takes to do those verifications and then the count."
"I know that Canadians are used to getting complete results on election night but it will be different for this election," said Chief Electoral Officer Stephane Perrault last month on the matter, estimating a results delay of between two and five days.
"If the volume of mail-in ballots is high as we have seen in other jurisdictions during the pandemic, it will take longer for returning officers to count those ballots."
We do know that, as usual, all in-person ballots gathered today will be counted on-site by Elections Canada staff as soon as the polls close.
"After the polls close, every deputy returning officer counts the votes for his or her polling station, assisted by the poll clerk and witnessed by the candidates or their representatives," reads the government agency's website.
"The deputy returning officer records the number of votes received by each candidate and the number of rejected ballots on a Statement of the Vote. The ballots and other election documents are then sealed in the ballot box and delivered to the returning officer."
The bottom line? Hang tight, Canada. There are more mail-in votes to count up and verify than ever before, and that kind of stuff takes careful attention and time (as it probably should.)
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