Half of 3 million HST ballots returned

More than 1.6 million voters sent in their ballots for B.C.'s referendum on the harmonized sales tax, a participation rate that matches the 51 per cent turnout for the 2009 B.C. election.

VICTORIA – More than 1.6 million voters sent in their ballots for B.C.’s referendum on the harmonized sales tax, a participation rate that matches the 51 per cent turnout for the 2009 B.C. election.

Elections BC sent out just over three million ballot packages starting in June, then extended the deadline for returning them by two weeks after a labour dispute at Canada Post delayed distribution.

Temporary staff at Elections BC are working seven days a week in two shifts, intending to have the ballots verified and counted by the end of August. A simple majority of votes cast will decide whether B.C. keeps the HST and lowers the rate by two points to 10 per cent in the next three years, or reinstates the former seven per cent provincial sales tax on top of the five per cent federal GST.

Acting chief electoral officer Craig James said the time extension increased the cost of the referendum by $500,000 but the total cost is estimated to be $8.9 million, well under the initial estimate of $12 million.

The only other mail-in referendum in B.C. was the 2002 vote on aboriginal treaty principles, which saw a return of 790,182 votes, about one third of the total sent out.

Just Posted

SUV on fire on Highway 1 between Abbotsford and Chilliwack

Emergency crews on scene and blocking the right lane

Hope’s Senior Mustangs drop close consolation match up

Fatigue plays a role as girls fall to host team Agassiz

What can $4 million get you in real estate in Chilliwack vs. other places in B.C.?

A 78-acre property with a large house – or you could get a condo in Vancouver or an estate mansion in 100 Mile House

Widespread concerns spur UFV to halt international enrolment growth

New target hopes to limit international students to 20% of all enrolment to give time to ‘catch up’

UFV & other B.C. universities post $340 million worth of surpluses thanks to international student tuition

Students call for spending as international enrolment produces huge surpluses at many universities

VIDEO: SNL skewers Trudeau’s mockery of Trump in high school cafeteria sketch

The three world leaders won’t let Trump sit at the cool kids’ table

Conservatives urge Morneau to deliver ‘urgent’ fall economic update

Morneau says the first thing the Liberals plan to do is bring in their promised tax cut for the middle class

B.C. creates $8.5M organization to improve safety for health care workers

Group will bring together unions, province, health care organizations

Four men in hospital after early morning Vancouver stabbing

A large group of men was seen fighting in Yaletwon

Kovrig clings to humour as ‘two Michaels’ near one year in Chinese prison

Their detention is widely viewed as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou

B.C. VIEWS: An engine that hums right along

First Nations are leading a new surge of investment in B.C.

Brain injury from domestic abuse a ‘public health crisis,’ says B.C. researcher

Nearly 80% of the domestic violence victims who reported to police last year were women

Campbell River mom’s iPhone containing priceless photos stolen from Victoria hospital parkade

The phone contained photos, heartbeat recordings of her late son

Most Read