The Electoral Process:
The Election Act, 1996 (Saskatchewan), is the authoritative source and the constant reference point behind the execution of key events in the election process. This document is the primary resource for all election related events and regulations.
The election process is made up of numerous things: regulations, election forms, procedures, financing, and legislation. Elections are also very human events – election officials, registered political parties, candidates, election workers, the media and the voting public are all integral to the election process.
Elections and the election process are a vital aspect of political democracy. From the organization of constituencies to the election of MLAs – all of these things contribute to our democracy.
"First Past the Post"
Like the other provinces and territories in Canada, Saskatchewan has what is called a “first past the post” type of electoral system. This system means that candidates run against each other within a geographic boundary called a constituency. Saskatchewan is divided into fifty-eight (58) different constituencies. In each constituency candidates vie for election and the candidate with the most votes becomes elected.
In many instances more than two (2) candidates run. This means that a candidate who is elected may not have won fifty-percent (50%) of the vote. The candidate with the most votes wins.
In the province as a whole, the party with the most candidates elected becomes the government.
This system means that it is possible for parties to form a government even if they did not have majority support. It is possible for a party to win more constituencies but have garnered less aggregate voter support.
Provincial Constituency Boundaries
Saskatchewan’s current constituency boundaries were enacted in 2002 under The Representation Act, 2002 (Saskatchewan), based on the recommendations of the Constituency Boundaries Commission 2002. The 2002 Commission was established under The Constituency Boundaries Act, 1993 (Saskatchewan).
In 2002, the Commission recommended the establishment of fifty-eight (58) provincial constituencies inclusive of two (2) northern constituencies and fifty-six (56) southern constituencies. The fifty-six (56) southern constituencies are of equal voter size.
Each constituency is further divided into polling subdivisions which are geographic areas composted of approximately 300 people. In preparation for an election in each polling subdivision a voters’ list is prepared and a polling location is established.
Administering elections is the responsibility of the Chief Electoral Officer of Elections Saskatchewan. The Chief Electoral Officer designates individuals called Returning Officers to manage at the regional level. Each constituency in Saskatchewan has a Returning Officer. As representatives of Elections Saskatchewan, Returning Officers serve as the principal election officials within their respective constituencies. Their duties include: the establishment and maintenance of polling subdivisions within their constituency, the recruitment, appointment and training of subordinate election officials (such as election clerks, enumerators, deputy returning officers, poll clerks, etc.), planning and conducting enumeration, managing advanced polling, and Election Day voting. They also maintain effective and open communication with the public, the media, and political stakeholders such as candidates and parties.
In Saskatchewan, a qualified voter must be eighteen years of age or more, a Canadian citizen on or before voting day, an ordinary resident in Saskatchewan for at least six months preceding the day when the election was called, and an ordinary resident in the constituency in which he or she intends to vote.
British subjects (other than Canadian citizens) who meet the aforementioned requirements are also entitled to vote if they were qualified electors at the time of the Saskatchewan provincial general election held on June 23, 1971.
Persons convicted of corrupt practices as defined in The Election Act, within the five years prior to voting are ineligible to vote.
In Saskatchewan, eligible voters are identified through a process known as enumeration. Enumeration is managed by the Returning Officers of each constituency. During enumeration an election official (called an enumerator) goes door to door, visiting or contacting each home and determining whether or not there are eligible voters resident within. Enumerators record every eligible voters name, address, and other information on a list which is then transformed into a province wide Voters' List. These lists are used by poll officials to ensure that ONLY qualified electors vote. Political parties and candidates also utilize these lists during campaigning.
An integral part of Polling Day is the presence of Candidates' Representatives at polling places. Candidates appoint their representatives in writing and they attend polling places to in the candidate's stead. Such appointments must be made in writing by the candidate, of one or more voters or Saskatchewan residents who are Canadian Citizens and who are 14 years of age or older, to be present and to represent him or her, in addition to or in place of himself or herself at the polling locations.
While Candidates' Representatives are not election officials, candidates representatives are entitled to observe, comment, and report on the process of voting and the counting of ballots. Their role is critical to maintaining public confidence in the fairness and transparency of the electoral process and the election result.