A total of 16.6 per cent of the Courtenay-Comox area’s 44,519 ballots had been returned so far for the mail-in ballot on electoral reform.

Electoral reform ballot returns so far show higher Courtenay-Comox engagement

Area leads province in percentage of ballots turned in

While many have predicted a low turnout for the mail-in referendum on electoral reform, Courtenay-Comox is showing the highest return of ballots in the province so far.

As of the morning of Friday, Nov. 16, Elections BC showed that 16.6 per cent of the area’s 44,519 ballots had been returned.

That’s a significantly higher percentage than most electoral districts. Boundary-Similkameen at 16.0 per cent, Kamloops-South Thompson at 16.0 per cent and Parksville-Qualicum Beach at 15.9 per cent were the only other areas to top 15 per cent.

RELATED: John Horgan shrugs off low turnout, change to referendum option

The proportional representation referendum is now showing signs of life, after Elections B.C. totalled up returned ballots awaiting screening before being added to the official count.

“This does not include ballot packages that have been received by Canada Post and not yet transferred to Elections B.C.,” the independent agency said in a statement Friday. Rotating strikes have had some effect on mail, as sorting centres have been picketed.

As of Friday morning, Elections B.C. reported it has received 597,300 ballot packages returned so far, representing 18 per cent of the more than three million registered voters who should have received them.

Friday’s total is more than double Thursdays, but this time it included ballots that have not yet gone through screening by Elections B.C. staff. Certification envelopes have to be checked to verify the identity of the voter, then ballots transferred in their “secrecy sleeves” for counting by electronic scanners.

Going by screened and verified ballots, the total is still below eight per cent as of Friday. (A ballot return report broken down in B.C.’s 87 provincial constituencies is here.)

— With a file from Tom Fletcher

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