Today’s Communique includes details on the Final Count to be held in every constituency on Saturday, April 16 beginning at 9 a.m. Candidates are encouraged to be in touch with their local questions should they have any questions. The Communique also provides information on the recount process and a reminder about the need to handle voters lists securely and appropriately.
Final Count – Saturday, April 16
While for most of the public, the election was over as of 8 p.m. on April 4 when general voting closed, you will know that the results are not official until the Final Count is held 12 days after election day. The Final Count is conducted by the Returning Officer with the assistance of the Election Clerk and is held in every constituency returning office across the province, beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 16. Candidates and up to two representatives per candidate are able to attend the Final Count.
At the Final Count:
- The Returning Officer counts any votes cast using special voting procedures that have not yet been counted and records them. These are votes cast using special voting procedures, such as absentee voting and ballots re-distributed by the Chief Electoral Officer from hospital and remand centre polls held throughout the province;
- Results from election night are reviewed but these ballots are not counted again;
- Final results are entered into our election management system.
Any candidate representatives who attend the Final Count must be able to produce an E-417 appointment form – this can be the same form that the candidate representative used during the general election or a new copy that is downloaded at elections.sk.ca/candidates-political-parties/forms-and-guides. If they cannot produce the appointment form, they will not be able to stay for the counting of votes. Every person in attendance for the counting of ballots (i.e. absentee, hospital and remand ballots) will need to complete an Oath of Secrecy as well. Although the Count will begin promptly at 9 a.m., candidates and representatives do not need to be in attendance at the start of the final count, nor are they required to stay for the entire duration.
Validity of Certificate Envelopes
Only valid certificate envelopes containing ballots can be opened. Candidates and representatives may have questions about what constitutes a valid certificate envelope. I would encourage them to ask the Returning Officer but here is some brief information that should be of assistance.
By law an E-328 Declaration of Voter envelope that is not signed by the voter is not valid and cannot be opened. In addition, any E-328 Declaration of Voter envelope where the voter does not reside in the constituency (i.e., ballot was sent to the wrong constituency) must also be rejected and not opened by the Returning Officer.
Declaration envelopes that lack voter birthdates or other information (e.g., election worker did not sign the election ID box or did not sign the declaration) are valid under the law. The returning officer shall open these declaration envelopes.
Candidates and representatives can raise objections during this process. Objections will be recorded but the Returning Officer’s decision will be final in all cases.
When the Final Count ends, we enter into a period of time whereby candidates can request or apply for recounts.
A recount will be automatically granted if a request is made by a candidate or their business manager under the following two circumstances:
- If the two candidates with the most votes have the same number of votes following the Final Count;
- If, after the Final Count, the margin of victory of the candidate declared elected is less than the total number of all unopened ballot envelopes, rejected ballots and ballots objected to.
The Election Act, 1996 refers to the two above scenarios as “automatic” recounts – see section 155 of the Act for more information. A request for an automatic recount is made to the constituency returning officer and must be made within four days of the Final Count, or Wednesday, April 20.
There are also circumstances where a candidate or business manager can apply to a judge of the Court of Queen’s Bench for a recount or addition. These are:
- The candidate or business manager is not entitled to request a recount or and addition pursuant to section 155; or
- The candidate or business manager has made a request for a recount or an addition and the returning officer failed to comply with section 155 (e.g., the returning officer did not apply to a judge for a recount upon being requested to do so).
In circumstances where a candidate is not entitled to request an automatic recount, the application must be made to the Court of Queen’s Bench within ten days of the returning officer declaring a candidate to be elected, or by Tuesday, April 26. Refer to section 156 for more information.
I have issued instructions to all of my returning officers on how to proceed if they receive a request for an automatic recount. I have also been in contact with the Registrar of the Court of Queen’s Bench to clarify how applications for recounts or additions should be managed. An application can be made at any Court of Queen’s Bench location in the province and must be accompanied by a deposit of $300.
Security of Voters Lists
The Election Act, 1996 requires that I, as Chief Electoral Officer, take all reasonable steps to protect against unauthorized use of a voters’ list. When you, or an authorized representative picked up the list, you signed a declaration to protect, secure and/or destroy the list of electors. I want to stress the importance of the commitment that you made and ask that you follow through on this.
I would also ask that you remind your candidates of their responsibility to collect and destroy any copies of the voters list used during their campaign. All candidates, or their representative, were required to sign the same declaration to protect, secure and/or destroy the voters list provided to them. This responsibility extends to campaign workers and volunteers who may have been provided with a copy of the list. I will issue another reminder on this closer to the end of the writ period.
As always, should you have any questions or issues before, during or after the Final Count, do not hesitate to be in contact with Jennifer Colin or me.