Around 45 residents voted at the Yale community centre on general voting day in B.C., on Oct. 24. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)

Around 45 residents voted at the Yale community centre on general voting day in B.C., on Oct. 24. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)

Hope, Canyon voters reflect on snap campaign

Voters say they feel safe coming out to cast their ballots in Fraser-Nicola

Even with a surge in mail-in ballots requested and many voting in advance polls, Hope and the Fraser Canyon’s polling stations still saw good numbers on Oct. 24.

Polls opened at 8 a.m. on general voting day and in the communities of Boston Bar and Yale, the majority of voters came in early. In Hope, at the Royal Canadian Legion hall, voters were still dropping in every few minutes right up until the last hour of voting. Polls are set to close at 8 p.m.

At Boston Bar’s polling station, in the Canyon Lanes bowling alley, around 100 people cast their ballots on Saturday an onlooker guessed at. In Yale, the number was around 45. In Hope, voters from the community as well as from as far away as Lytton and Salmon Arm dropped in just in time to vote Wednesday evening

Several voters expressed their views on the quick campaign, including Les McAllister who said he didn’t care for BC NDP leader John Horgan’s decision to call a snap election. “That was a nasty move, but that’s his choice. And maybe it’ll shine for him, for it.”

Kelly Smith, a resident of Sunshine Valley, said he hasn’t seen the leadership he would had liked this year. “It’s totally reflective of 2020, I wish it wasn’t…I think we all turn to our politicians to be that strength, that almost parental figure, and we’re not getting it,” he said.

Most interviewed said they didn’t have much time to follow the machinations of the month-long election, yet did their research close to voting day.

“Some touched on some of the subjects that were important to me, mental health and seniors… Taking care of the people and being a voice for the people,” said Monica Cummins. “Hopefully these aren’t just campaign promises, because my faith has been shattered a bit in the past,” she said, adding that she had to talk herself back into voting this election. Part of this decision was being able to relate more to some of what the candidates were saying this year. “I’m kind of hopeful that…at least in our region, our municipality, have someone that’s going to work for the people and some of those crucial issues that may not have even been touched on by some of the others.”

Regardless of political stripe, those interviewed agreed voting was important. “I think it’s important that everyone states their opinion, otherwise it’s not equal for all people,” said Steffan Mundal, a 20-year-old Lytton resident who voted for the first time.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Smith agreed. “My relatives fought for this. People have fought to get away from other countries, to get here, to be able to vote [and] to have the freedom. I’m not going to let it slip through my fingers or my children’s fingers…So it’s my duty, I have to.”

All of those interviewed agreed that they felt safe coming out to vote, even as B.C. faces a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. “I was wearing my mask and everyone else has got them, so I was feeling good,” McAllister said. “It’s really wide open in there, there is nobody in there,” he added, referencing the polling station at the Hope Legion hall.

“There’s lots of distance, they’ve got it set up really well in there,” Cummins concurred. “[It’s] very organized and spaced, it’s a big room and lots of space so its all good.”

Due to the pandemic, more British Columbians have decided to vote by mail-in ballot than ever before. Election results won’t be finalized until after Nov. 6, after those mail-in ballots are counted. An estimated 2,509 of mail-in ballots were requested by Elections BC within the Fraser-Nicola riding. There are 26,500 registered voters in the region.

Across B.C., a total of 478,900 mail-in ballots were returned to Elections BC, as of Friday, Oct. 22.

There are roughly 3.5 million registered voters in the province.

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