November 13, 2013 – Elections Saskatchewan has completed a report on the merits of establishing a permanent register of voters in the province.
Toward a Permanent Register of Voters for Saskatchewan, a publication within the Chief Electoral Officer’s Assessment series, was submitted to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly on October 29, 2013.
Over the past decade, there have been calls for a permanent register of voters to replace enumeration as the preferred approach to registering voters in Saskatchewan. An all-party committee looking at amendments to The Election Act, 1996 suggested the change in 2004, and Elections Saskatchewan recommended the transition again following the 2007 provincial general election.
In early 2012, the Board of Internal Economy asked Elections Saskatchewan to undertake an analysis of the costs and operational impact of a permanent register compared to enumeration.
“Voter registration is essential to protecting the integrity of the voting process by ensuring that only eligible voters are given access to the voting booth,” said Michael Boda, Saskatchewan’s Chief Electoral Officer.
“Saskatchewan is one of only three Canadian provinces and territories that do not currently compile their voters lists using a permanent register.”
Enumeration is the process of registering voters by going door-to-door to establish eligibility. A permanent register of voters is a regularly updated database of all eligible voters that is maintained and updated from reliable public sector data sources.
Permanent registers ensure that individuals only vote within a given constituency and polling station, and contain all of the information that would normally be collected through door-to-door enumeration.
Based on the evidence collected within Toward a Permanent Register of Voters for Saskatchewan, Elections Saskatchewan is recommending that a permanent register of voters be established in Saskatchewan.
To ensure the register is in place for the 2019 general election, legislative amendments to The Elections Act, 1996 will be required on a timely basis to give Elections Saskatchewan time to make the extensive operational and system changes.
“Elections Saskatchewan has been preparing for a change towards a permanent register of voters,” Dr. Boda said. “Our election management information system was developed to accommodate a permanent register of voters, and we’ve been recommending other legislative changes that would support the introduction of a register.”
“While some of the changes are now in place, such as set date elections and the ability to conduct enumeration outside of the writ period, we require authority through legislation to create and maintain a permanent register of voters in Saskatchewan.”
Elections Saskatchewan is the province’s impartial, independent election management body. Given a mandate from the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly, it organizes, manages and oversees provincial electoral events.
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