Advance polling stations are already open. There’s still time to request a mail-in package. And, of course, people can cast their ballot on election day, on Saturday, Oct. 24. (Black Press Media files)

Advance polling stations are already open. There’s still time to request a mail-in package. And, of course, people can cast their ballot on election day, on Saturday, Oct. 24. (Black Press Media files)

OUR VIEWS: Vote early for grandma – and others

Advance polls opened Thursday, and there’s also time to get a mail-in ballot, to avoid Oct. 24 lines

Early voting starts this week across British Columbia for the provincial election.

If you’ve ever considered voting early, this might be the year to do it.

There’s no reason that Elections BC can’t conduct a safe vote, even in the midst of a pandemic. Spacing out voters and poll workers, Plexiglas shields here and there, and a little consideration and planning, should make it less dangerous than a visit to the grocery store – and with masks and cleaning, that isn’t much of a risk, either.

However, there’s no reason to get complacent.

Even with the vast number of mail-in ballots that have been sent out this year – more than 640,000 voters have requested them, which would amount to more than 30 per cent of all ballots if voter numbers are the same as in 2017 – the polls will likely see lineups this year.

RELATED: Advance voting begins Thursday, runs until Oct. 21

In the past, most of that line would have been inside a nice warm, dry school or church. Now, with everyone spaced six feet apart, it’s going to be outside. Possibly in the rain. Or the wind. Hey, it’s Oct. 24, in a lot of B.C., that could be snow.

So if you didn’t get a mail-in ballot, and you have a car and the ability to drop in at one of the advance polls, maybe give it a try this year?

The best reason for doing so is that many of the folks going to the polls on election day will be elderly or disabled folks who don’t drive and don’t have the option of easily dropping by an advance poll. They’ll rely on their local polling place.

RELATED: B.C. leaders tested in the only TV election debate of 2020

If you already have a mail-in ballot, you can use that. If you can vote early, ducking in on your lunch hour or on the weekend before grocery shopping, you can do that.

If your schedule is simply too tight – there is always election day. But spreading out our voting, both for our collective safety from COVID-19, and to give a break to the folks voting on Oct. 24, is a good idea this year.

BC politicsBC Votes 2020maple ridgePitt Meadows

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