It will be some time past mid-March before we know the results of a Newfoundland and Labrador general election that was originally scheduled for mid-February.
In a news release Sunday, Chief Electoral Officer Bruce Chaulk said the process of counting votes will begin the week of March 1 and continue into the week of March 15.
The election was originally scheduled for Feb. 13, but has been delayed and amended because of the recent COVID-19 outbreak in the metro St. John's region and resulting province-wide return to Alert Level 5 in OPubic Health's response plan.
Just over a week ago, all in-person voting was cancelled; the remainder of the election is being conducted through the special ballot/mail-in process.
The deadline for Elections NL to receive special ballots is March 12. Any returned voting kit not postmarked on or before that date will not be counted.
The deadline for applying for voting kits was this past Friday, Feb.19, and in Sunday’s release, Chaulk offered assurances to those who applied before the cutoff, “that every request for a special ballot received by Elections NL will be processed and voting kits will be issued.”
He added his office is receiving feedback that electors in the province are beginning to receive their voting kits in the mail, that applications are being processed as quickly as possible and that iit is anticipated voting kits will continue to be mailed this week and into next week.
Chaulk also said Elections NL’s call centre is fielding questions on whether an application has been received, but says Elections NL does not contact electors to confirm receipt of applications.
“The only reason for Elections NL to contact an applicant at this point would be to request more information on an application, such as confirming a mailing address or name change,” said the release.
On Friday, Chaulk said 110,000 applications for voting kits had been received prior to the deadline, but that this could produce more than 110,000 special ballots, as many requests — especially those made by phone or email — were for multiple ballots for people in the same household.
Chaulk also said that 24,000 voting kits had already been mailed out as of Friday.