Elections B.C. says transit referendum cost $5.4 million

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      The Metro Vancouver transportation and transit plebiscite, which resulted in a "no" win, cost Elections B.C. more than $5 million to run.

      Chief electoral officer Keith Archer disclosed the price tag in his plebiscite report, which was released today (September 22).

      "Elections BC incurred costs of $5,372,380 to administer the 2015 Metro Vancouver Transportation and Transit Plebiscite," the report says.

      With 1,562,386 registered voters in Metro Vancouver on May 15, that's a cost of $3.44 per voter.

      The expenses are broken down into eight categories:

      • Salaries: $801,925
      • Professional services: $35,389
      • Travel: $16,307
      • Information systems: $304,733
      • General office expenses: $509,647
      • Postal services/postage/courier: $2,683,949
      • Advertising and publications: $883,599
      • Building occupancy: $136,831

      The report summarizes what happened during the 11-week plebiscite as follows:

      A total of 1,572,8612 voting packages were issued; 798,262 ballot packages were returned to Elections BC, either directly or at a plebiscite service office, by May 29, 2015. In addition, 38,393 ballot packages received by the deadline were not considered for counting because they did not meet the requirements of the Plebiscite 2015 (Regional Transportation System Funding) Regulation. An additional 173 ballot packages met the requirements for counting, but were resealed because the certification envelope either did not contain a secrecy envelope or ballot, or contained more than one secrecy envelope or ballot. Of the 759,696 ballots considered, the majority of validly cast votes were not in favour of the question on the ballot.

      Elections B.C. says it received a variety of complaints about the process:

      Some voters also questioned the month long delay between the close of voting and the announcement of the results. This delay is due to the nature of a vote by mail event. In a provincial election, preliminary results are known within hours of the close of voting because a majority of voters vote in person on General Voting Day and their ballots are counted in the voting places by tens of thousands of election officials. A relatively small number of ballots are cast by mail and counted at final count after being screened for eligibility (confirming that the individual who voted was a registered voter and voted only once). In a vote by mail event, results take longer to determine because counting cannot begin until all ballot packages have been received and screened for eligibility. This screening process is time consuming and conducted by fewer officials.

      Elections BC also received a number of complaints regarding the inclusion of content provided by the Mayors’ Council and Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure in the information pamphlet, and on the ballot.

      Ballots starting going out on March 16, and voting ended on May 29.

      The result was announced on July 2.