Office Closure, Reminders & New CEO Order
The summer and fall of 2020 have been very busy ones for our Elections Saskatchewan staff members as they administered the province’s 29th General Election in the midst of a global pandemic. Given this, I have decided that our office will close for the period beginning Monday, December 21 through until Monday, January 4, allowing our staff members to take a well-deserved break and use vacation time that they were unable to take during the summer months.
Our Corporate Services and Electoral Finance team, however, will continue to respond to phone calls and emails sent to our Business Manager Support Line, given the time-sensitive nature of business manager responsibilities. As Chief Official Agent, should a situation arise that requires immediate assistance from Elections Saskatchewan, we do not want you to hesitate to reach out to me or to Jennifer Colin. We will be monitoring our email and phones throughout the holiday season.
Candidate Election Expense Return Info and Reminders
Audited candidate election expense returns are due to be submitted in hard copy to Elections Saskatchewan by January 26, 2021. Please pass the information below to your candidates and/or business managers as it is very important that they understand their responsibilities.
We recommend that any business managers who have not yet provided returns for their candidates to their appointed auditors do so as soon as possible to ensure the audit can be completed and the return filed with Elections Saskatchewan by the deadline. Implications to the candidate for not filing the Election Expenses Return by the legislated deadline include:
• Forfeiture of $100 Nomination Deposit;
• Loss of eligibility for reimbursement of election expenses; and
• Assessment of late filing fees of $25 per day for a maximum of 30 days ($750).
Also, please be aware of two other political finance-related deadlines upcoming in the new year:
• Deadline for registered political parties to file their election expenses return is April 26, 2021
• Deadline for registered political parties to file their annual expense return is April 30, 2021
I would also mention that we expect to have a guide for how Chief Official Agents can use ELMS to complete their party’s annual expense return published soon. I will send it to you in a Communique once it is available.
In order to administer a successful election during the COVID-19 pandemic, certain adaptations to The Election Act, 1996 (the Act) are required. These adaptations can be broken down into two categories – first, changes required to protect against and prevent the spread of COVID-19, and second, changes required to ensure the efficiency and stability of the election system as a result of the pandemic – and will be made using the authority found in section 7 of the Act.
Section 7(3)(a) of the Act requires that the Chief Electoral Officer give notice to every registered political party when the authority contained in section 7 is used. Please accept the attached CEO Order along with this Communique as that notice. I would also ask that you communicate this information to your candidates, staff, and other party officials. One new CEO Order is attached:
CEO-Order-2020-013 Increasing Election Expense Limits due to COVID-19:
This CEO Order required registered political parties and candidates to include spending on non-branded Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) on their election expense return. If the party or candidate exceeds their election expense limit due to spending on non-branded PPE, their potential reimbursement will not be reduced nor will they be subject to any other penalty under the Act. The implementation of this Order allowed parties and candidates to spend on needed PPE without affecting their ability to spend in other areas related to their campaign.
Questions on CEO Orders should be directed to Jennifer Colin, Deputy CEO, at [email protected] All CEO Orders are also posted on our website here: https://www.elections.sk.ca/candidates-political-parties/bulletins-circulars/.
Finally, I wanted to take a moment and wish you both a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. 2020 has been a year unlike any other and I sincerely hope that you can find time over the holiday season to relax and spend time with those closest to you. All the best, and I look forward to engaging with you in 2021.
Dr. Michael Boda
Chief Electoral Officer
Province of Saskatchewan