Canada expects huge jump in mail ballots in a pandemic vote

OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — The nonpartisan agency responsible for conducting federal elections in Canada says there could be a huge increase in Canadians using mail-in ballots if an election is held during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Elections Canada says it commissioned public opinion research that shows about 22% of voters would prefer to cast their ballots by mail during the pandemic, while 58 per cent would prefer to vote in-person at advance or election-day polling stations.

In last fall’s federal election, fewer than 50,000 of the 18.4 million Canadians who cast ballots did so by mail. Of those, 34,142 lived abroad while 15,403 lived in Canada.

Elections Canada’s research suggests about 4 million people could vote by mail if an election is held during the pandemic. The agency said an increase in volume of mail-in ballots could delay the release of election results.

The current Liberal government holds only a minority of seats in the House of Commons and could be defeated at any time, forcing an election.

The first opportunity for opposition parties to bring down the government could come after Parliament returns Sept. 23 with a throne speech laying out the government’s plan for reviving the pandemic-ravaged economy. The throne speech will be put to a confidence vote.

President Donald Trump has voiced opposition to universal mail-in voting during this fall’s U.S. federal election.

Trump has said mail-in voting could lead to fraud and it could take months before the final result is known.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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