Mail-in voting successful in Oregon; B.C. could follow suit

B.C. HST referendum

Re: Mail-in ballot fails to inspire (Our View, June 17)

I am very concerned about the way the HST referendum is being carried out. Not only is the wording of the question somewhat confusing, but the voter verification process also leaves much to be desired. If B.C. were to use a mail-in voting system, I think we should have drawn on the experience of Oregon, where all voting is done by mail.

Unfortunately, however, Elections B.C. does not have a signature database and instead is arranging with B.C. Stats to check the identification of a “statistically significant” sample of 6,000 voters with a survey using birthdates and telephone numbers. The sample represents only about half of one per cent of the votes that are expected to be mailed in.

That is simply not good enough. While statistical surveys can serve a number of useful purposes, verifying an election is not one of them. The only way to guarantee the legitimacy of an election – whether by mail or at polling stations – is through the old-fashioned process of carefully checking the ID of every person who votes.

My criticism is directed at the government, which shouldn’t have decided to have a mail-in vote unless it could guarantee that all votes would be properly scrutinized and verified, as they are in Oregon.

Under the circumstances, it would probably have been much better, as you suggest, to have held the HST referendum in conjunction with the next provincial election.

Gordon Pollard

Victoria