VICTORIA – Attorney General Barry Penner introduced the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) Initiative Vote and Referendum Act, recognizing that a mail-in vote will be conducted prior to the vote currently required under the Recall and Initiative Act.
If approved by the legislature, the amendment would remove the requirement for the initiative vote under the Recall and Initiative Act. It also confirms that the Recall and Initiative Act does not apply to the referendum to be conducted under the HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) Referendum Regulation.
As the requirement to hold the initiative vote is contained in legislation, a legislative change is required to cancel it. Without this legislation, the chief electoral officer would be required to hold a second vote under the terms of the Recall and Initiative Act on Sept. 24, 2011.
Moving to a mail-in ballot compared to a traditional ballot box vote is expected to save taxpayers at least $18 million. Elections BC, a non-partisan office of the legislature, will conduct the HST referendum.
Elections BC will begin mailing referendum ballots to registered voters June 13. The majority of registered voters will receive their ballots by June 24. Unregistered voters have until July 8 to request a ballot from Elections BC. Completed ballots must be received by (not sent to) Elections BC or in person at a Service BC centre by 4:30 p.m. (local time) July 22. Final results of the vote are expected in August.