The number of Canadians opting to vote by mail in next week’s federal election will likely end up far lower than Elections Canada’s initial estimates.
The organization said just last month that it was bracing for a massive surge in mail-in ballot requests as Canadians looked for alternative voting methods amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Surveys conducted by Elections Canada suggested that between two and three million Canadians would vote by mail this year, up from about 50,000 during the 2019 election.
But with just one day left for voters to request special ballot voting kits, which can be submitted by mail, only 985,000 Canadians have done so. About 52,000 of those requests were made by Canadians living outside the country. In 2019, such voters accounted for the majority of mail-in requests.
Special ballot voting kits do not include a list of candidates — voters must instead write the name of their chosen candidate on the ballot.
Special ballots can also be dropped off at Elections Canada offices. They are also used for voting at places such as hospitals and prisons.
Elections Canada has said it expects the vast majority of special ballots requested this year will be submitted by mail.
Voters who request mail-in kits are also not permitted to vote in person during advance polls or on election day.
If you’d like to vote by mail but haven’t requested your ballot yet, you can apply online at this website. The deadline to request a mail-in ballot is Tuesday, Sept. 14, at 6 p.m.
Election day is next Monday, Sept. 20.
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