Final Details for Second Preliminary Count

Day After Election Day (October 27)

While the work of administering Saskatchewan’s 29th General Election is far from complete, a significant milestone has been achieved.  Election Day marks a shift in thinking for the general public and the media, although this election is different due to the large volume of Vote by Mail ballots still to be counted. I want to thank you and all your candidates, business managers and volunteers as we at Elections Saskatchewan continue to work to complete the counting process with the highest of integrity. Following Election Day voting and last evening’s First Preliminary Count, some constituencies have been “unofficially” decided while others await the results of our Second Preliminary Count and perhaps even the Final Count

Second Preliminary Count (beginning October 28)

As I told you last week, I want to facilitate your observation of the Second Preliminary Count. Following receipt of Vote by Mail ballots by 8 pm on Election Day, we know now that we will be counting 40,213 Vote by Mail ballots beginning tomorrow.

Attached you will find a re-designed candidate’s representative appointment form (an E-417C) which has an attached list of constituencies. In our briefing and in a subsequent Communique, I explained that our plan was to rank constituencies according to those which will be most impacted by the potential Vote by Mail ballots and assign them to our 26 counting stations. While the appointment form and list are designed to be self-explanatory, you may still have questions. I would ask that you please contact Jennifer Colin ([email protected]) if you have questions. You’ll see that we have asked for an email address for every candidate representative – we will send each an email containing the rules and processes that must be followed during the Second Preliminary Count. 

You must complete the E-417C and return it to my office by 4 p.m. today. You can email it to [email protected]. Once we have the form, we will complete identification badges for each of your candidate representatives and ensure they are assigned to the correct counting station. Your representatives should be prepared to arrive no later than 8:30 a.m. so as to be checked in. The counting process will begin promptly at 9 a.m. The processes and plans that we have in place for counting these ballots have been developed in consultation with the Office of the Chief Medical Health Officer. They are intended to protect our workers and your candidate representatives. Anyone who cannot comply will be asked to leave.

I do have a couple of comments regarding tomorrow’s count that may include a slight change from what I had described earlier so I would appreciate if you would take particular note here:

  • First, we have assigned each of the 26 counting stations at least two constituencies. The other 9 constituencies (the 9 constituencies least impacted by the Vote by Mail ballots) will be handled more ‘dynamically’ as stations finish counting.
  • Second, I have reserved some flexibility to alter the second constituency that a counting station will count, depending on the time of day and volume of ballots. If, for example, a station finishes counting their first assigned constituency at 3:30 p.m. and their second constituency has a large number of ballots, I may have them count a different constituency that has a much smaller number of ballots. In this way, we can increase efficiency while ensuring we do not need to count significantly past our 5 p.m. ending time.

I also want to clarify the role of the Chief Official Agent during the Second Preliminary Count. You will have two options:

  • The Chief Official Agent may appoint themselves as a candidate representative and observe the counts that take place at one counting station. All rules and procedures in place for candidate representatives would apply.
  • The Chief Official Agent can serve a “supervisory” role for their party outside the counting halls but cannot enter any of the rooms or observe counting.

Throughout this process, Chief Official Agents must also adhere to all the public health guidance required of candidate representatives.

CEO Orders

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. Please communicate this information, and the attached CEO Order, to your candidates, staff, and other party officials. The new CEO Order is:

CEO-Order-2020-011 Attendance of Candidate Representatives at Vote by Mail Central Count: This CEO Order sets out the rules and processes by which candidate representatives can observe the count of Vote by Mail ballots. Vote by Mail ballots will be counted in two stages: one count beginning on October 28 and a second taking place at the Final Count on November 7. Registered political parties and independent candidates will be able to appoint one candidate representative per counting station at the central count.


Dr. Michael Boda
Chief Electoral Officer
Province of Saskatchewan