April 3, 2016: Writ Period Bulletin for Field Leadership Team

This issue of the Writ Period Bulletin for Field Leadership Team includes articles on:

  • Message to the FLT from the Chief Electoral Officer;
  • Confirming Polls are Open and Reporting to Elections SK;
  • Election Day – Processes and Procedures;
  • Emergency and Non-Emergency Incidents on Election Day;
  • Election Night and Results Reporting;
  • Sending HRT Ballot Boxes to Elections SK;
  • Payroll on Election Night.

Message to the FLT from the Chief Electoral Officer

As we enter the last few hours before Election Day, I know well that our Returning Offices are very busy.  It’s an exciting time as we work to deliver an event that we have been planning for over an entire electoral cycle.

Like you, everyone at Head Office is fully engaged and focused on how they can most effectively fulfill our mandate. I want to thank you for continuing to work with our team here and to ask you to seek their guidance when those out-of-the-ordinary circumstances arise.  Having been involved in many elections during my career, I want to assure you that the team supporting you is one of the best I’ve ever seen.

I want to emphasize how important it will be to maintain regular communication throughout election day—both with your team in the field and with our Operations team here at Head Office.  It’s essential that we maintain a disciplined network of communication if we’re to be successful tomorrow.  Providing timely data with respect to poll opening times is just one way that we can react quickly to emerging issues.  I want to thank you in advance for making sure that you provide this data to us in the way described in yesterday’s Writ Period Bulletin.

I also want you to know that we think very highly of the work that you are doing in the field.  As FLT members, we know that you are carrying a significant burden.  You are doing important work on behalf of the People of Saskatchewan.  Our democracy is important and you are helping to shape it in a very positive way.  Be encouraged.  Do your best.  And know that we are here to support you tomorrow.

Confirming Polls are Open and Reporting to Elections SK

Remember, in a pinch:

  • an Information Officer or a Registration Officer who is an eligible voter can perform the role of Poll Clerk
  • any eligible voter can perform the role of Poll Clerk
  • a Poll Clerk can perform the role of Deputy Returning Officer

If any of the poll workers have not shown up for work by 9 a.m. and need to be replaced, the replacement must perform their assigned role for the duration of the day.  Any of the spare workers who may have been deployed as a result of someone not showing up for work can assume the duties of the person who has had to step into the vacant position.

Election Day – Processes and Procedures

RO and EC will need to stay in the returning office on election day to troubleshoot and handle calls and questions from voters and your election officials.  Plan to arrive in the office at least an hour before the polls open.  You may have some important messages on your phone or emails that you will need to respond to regarding issues in the field that will need to be resolved before general voting begins.

Arrange to have contact with your SDROs at various times throughout the day.  Having them call in at a pre-arranged time to talk to you or the EC may work best to find out how voting is progressing, whether any additional ballots or other materials are needed, or whether there have been any issues that you need to attend to.

These are some of the common questions/issues that will arise on election day:

  • Be prepared for a lot of voters calling in to ask where they vote.
  • Line-ups at the polls are not too unusual first thing in the morning and between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. If you receive persistent reports of line-ups at a particular poll, make sure your officials are trying to identify voters who are on the list and have the proper ID from those who don’t have ID or need to register.  There is no point in having a person wait in a line if they don’t have the necessary ID, can’t find someone to vouch for them, or are in the wrong location.  If this isn’t helping the situation and the wait time is inordinately long and persistent, you may need to consider dispatching additional election officials to assist.
  • It doesn’t happen often, but there have been occasions when the RO will receive a report about improper conduct on the part of candidates’ representatives. This can happen when the representative is approaching the voting station while a person is voting, insists on viewing the poll book while the officials are busy or begins to systematically challenge the eligibility of voters.  If this happens, have the SDRO or DRO remind the candidate’s representative of his or her role.  If the problem persists, the RO should speak to the candidate’s representative directly or call their campaign office.
  • Very rarely do we end up with a situation where there is a shortage of ballots at a particular poll. In locations where there are multiple polling stations, there will always be extra ballots at other stations. In the very rare circumstance of a stand-alone poll where there are significantly more voters in a poll than we were able to get on the list, you should have some extra ballots in your office that can be couriered out.  Remember, don’t wait until the DRO runs out of ballots before trying to resolve the issue.  This should be a routine question you ask when the SDRO or DRO contacts you throughout the day.

Emergency and Non-Emergency Incidents on Election Day

Each returning officer (and ideally each polling location supervisor) should have at their disposal the local telephone number for the police.  For Non-Emergency incidents the local police service administrative number should be used. Some of these numbers are listed below. 

For Emergency incidents 911 should be dialed. A 911 call should only be used only for police emergencies (or fire or medical emergencies) where an immediate response is required.  An emergency includes any situation where lives are in danger or there is a crime in progress. Election crimes include the theft of ballots or ballot boxes. 

Administrative phone numbers for municipal police services are:

Regina Police Service                        306-777-6500

Saskatoon Police Service                  306-975-8300

Prince Albert Police Service               306-953-4222

Moose Jaw Police Service                            306-694-7600

Weyburn Police Service                     306-848-3250

Estevan Police Service                      306-634-4767

RCMP detachments provide police services in the rest of the province.  Visit www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca to locate the number for your local detachment.  Please do this before election day.

Election Night and Results Reporting

There are four very important activities that will occur on election night. 

  1. Counting ballots after 8pm
  2. Receiving election results from DROs and SDROs after the polls close
  3. Reporting poll by poll election results within ESPREE
  4. Receiving ballot boxes and election materials at your office from your poll workers

Counting Ballots – In addition the the ballot counting that will be occurring at the polling stations, most returning offices will only be counting Mobile and Homebound voter ballots on election night.  You may also need to set up an area where Advance poll ballots can be counted if you held an Advance poll in the returning office or if officials at other Advance polls were unable to find a suitable poll location to count these ballots.  Make sure the ballot counting area you set up is in a place where this activity can be conducted without disruption and be viewed by candidate’s representatives who are entitled to be present.

Receiving Election Results – You will need to have two other people available to answer phone calls from DROs and SDROs on election night.  These can be your Administrative Assistants or other staff you have used throughout the election. They can expect to begin receiving calls from some of the smaller polls shortly after 8:00 p.m. If one of your phone lines is busy the calls will roll-over to the second line.  DROs and SDROs should be instructed to keep calling if the line is busy and not to simply leave a message.  If any of the polls have not reported their results by 9:00 p.m., the RO should be contacting them to find out what the delay is and confirm when the results will be reported.

Reporting Election Results in ESPREE – You will need your AC, another data entry person for entering election results into ESPREE, a wall chart keeper, and a “runner” to supply the wall chart keeper with results updates. Remember that there will also be a media representative present to relay election results to the media consortium.  Most people obtain their election results from the TV or Internet, but it’s possible you may also have other interested members of the public or local media present to watch the election results being reported for your constituency.  These people must be well away from the areas where ballots are being counted and are not permitted to be present for the counting process. 

Remember: You must protect the secrecy of the vote.  For extremely small polls with only a few voters or where all voters have voted for the same candidate, these results should not be posted on the wall chart or provided to the media.

Receiving Election Materials – You should have three short-term workers available to assist with receiving ballot boxes and other election materials from the DROs and SDROs.  If possible you will need to set up a large area where the boxes and materials can be brought in, checked off and stored.  All the material you sent out to a polling place will be returned, including signage, posters, expense forms, envelopes full of supplies and ballot boxes.  Make sure you have a staff person to help the DRO or SDRO bring supplies into the office, especially if parking close to the door is a problem.  Use a check list to make sure you have all the materials you are expecting.  Remember, if the SDRO or another courier (anyone other than the DRO) returns the ballot boxes, they will need to complete and sign an E-306 Oath of Messenger who Delivers the Ballot Box to the Returning Officer form.  You will need to complete a Receipt for Ballot Box form E-305 if the DRO returns the ballot box.

Expect ballot boxes and other materials to begin arriving at your office any time after 8:30pm.  In urban constituencies, most of the materials will be returned by 10pm.  In rural polls you should be making arrangements for them to be returned either on election night, if close by, or the next morning.  Regardless of when ballot boxes are returned, the results must still be reported to your office on election night.  You cannot close your office until all the results are reported in ESPREE.

Sending HRT Ballot Boxes to Elections SK

Constituencies that have Hospital and Remand polls must be prepared to deliver the ballot boxes from these polls to Elections SK on Tuesday morning, April 5. 

Regina constituencies can personally deliver the ballot boxes Tuesday morning.  All other ROs will need to call Purolator to have the ballot boxes picked up from their offices in the morning and delivered to Elections SK at #310 - 3303 Hillsdale Street in Regina. If available, you should be requesting same day delivery of the ballot boxes.

On Saturday April 9, these ballots will be sorted by Elections SK and redistributed back to the appropriate constituency for counting at the final count on April 16.

Remember, you will need to have the Purolator driver sign an E-306 form (Oath of Messenger).

Payroll on Election Night

We ask that you refrain from entering payroll information between 8:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. on election night while election results are being entered into ESPREE.  We do not need any additional load on the system while the results are being reported.  You can resume payroll processing any time after 10:30 p.m.