Second Preliminary Count Details
Second Preliminary Count – beginning October 28, 2020
I wanted to confirm some details related to the Second Preliminary Count, which will begin two days after election day, on October 28. As discussed at the briefing offered yesterday afternoon, at that time, we will be counting all Vote by Mail ballots received up until the end of voting on October 26. Consistent with the Infographic you have been sent, the First Preliminary Count will take place on election night, the Second Preliminary Count is discussed here, and the Final Count will begin, per legislation, twelve days after election day.
The Second Preliminary Count will begin at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, October 28 at the Delta Hotel in Regina (1919 Saskatchewan Drive) and run through until 5 p.m. At 5 p.m., the count will be adjourned and continued the next day, again from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Second Preliminary Count will continue from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for as many days as it takes to count all votes received by the cut off point. I would also add that we may stop slightly early at some counting stations rather than begin a new constituency very close to 5 p.m., just as we may work slightly past 5 p.m. in order to finish a ballot box or a constituency.
Our current plans now have a maximum of 26 counting stations set up in five rooms. This means we will be able to count Vote by Mail ballots from 26 constituencies at one time.
Second Preliminary Count – Candidate Representatives
During the briefing yesterday, I offered an outline of our planned approach for allowing candidates and/or candidate representatives to observe the counting process. Our plans need to balance your right to view this process with the need to mitigate risks associated with COVID-19. I hope that we have struck the right balance. We have proactively reviewed these plans with the Office of the Chief Medical Health Officer to ensure compliance with public health orders and all provincial guidelines. If you have concerns, I would ask that you contact me as soon as possible as there is significant logistical work behind the scenes which must take place to implement these processes.
Again, we will have 26 counting stations spread out through several counting halls. Consistent with advance/election day polls, you will be able to appoint one candidate representative per counting station for a maximum of 26 candidate representatives per political party. For this Count, which will be managed centrally, I will have Chief Official Agents centrally appoint all candidate representatives (for clarity, I will refer to candidate representatives but the same role can of course be filled by a candidate). We will need an email address for each candidate representative as we will send them a copy of the rules for the count, including COVID-19 precautions.
At 12 noon on Tuesday, October 27 we will provide you with a list of constituencies consisting of 26 rows. The list will be arranged numerically in the following manner:
By arranging constituencies in this manner, my hope is that we will provide certainty (or at least greater clarity) in the races which are closest as soon as possible after election day.
Candidate representatives must be assigned to a specific counting station and will be able to observe all counts that take place at that station. Please note that some constituencies will take longer than others to count, and some may take more than one day. For public health reasons, representatives will not be allowed to move between counting stations/tables in the same room, or between different rooms in the facility. Representatives who do not follow precautions put in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 will be asked to leave the facility.
Candidate representatives will be given a badge when checking in at the registration desk. The badge will be colour coded to the room they are able to be in and will have their name and political affiliation. Masks will be required at all times; hand sanitizer must be used when entering a counting room and physical distancing must be maintained at all times. We will not be actively screening attendees but we will have signage asking anyone experiencing a set of symptoms to not proceed (similar to what is seen in polling locations). Food will not be provided by Elections Saskatchewan but a lunch break will be provided. Food may be delivered to a table located outside the counting halls but cannot be taken inside where counting is taking place
As mentioned, you will receive the ranked list of constituencies by 12 noon on Tuesday, October 27. We will need your response, along with candidate representatives assigned to the constituencies that you wish to observe, by 4 p.m. the same day. We will then prepare the necessary logistical details and seating arrangements. Given strict guidance from the Office of the Chief Medical Health Office, we cannot make changes to list once they are submitted. In rare and exceptional circumstances, substitutions can be made but prior approval of the Chief Electoral Officer will be required.
Polling Location Changes
Before the election was called, I told you that I thought we might see a higher number of changes in polling locations than in past elections due to COVID-19 concerns. I’m happy to report that this has not been the case so far. We have not seen an unusual amount of last second changes or concerns. Still, you can find a list of polling location changes that have taken place on our website at https://www.elections.sk.ca/voters/polling-location-changes/.
Dr. Michael Boda
Chief Electoral Officer
Province of Saskatchewan