Door-to-Door Canvassing Guidelines & Other Updates
Door-to-Door Canvassing Guidelines
Last month, I informed you that Elections Saskatchewan would not be issuing political party-specific guidelines on how to campaign during a pandemic. After consultations with Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer, we determined that parties should instead rely on the full set of guidelines issued by the province as part of its Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan.
That general guidance, that parties should reference and follow the complete set of guidelines, remains in place but I want to ensure that all parties are aware that the ban on door-to-door canvassing, mentioned in my June 29 Communique, has been lifted. Door-to-door canvassing (as well as sales) are now permitted provided certain rules are followed. Those rules are found here: https://bit.ly/3eXSEI0 (I have shortened the URL due to its length – they can also be found on the website of the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan under Guidelines).
I would draw your attention to one general comment found within the guidelines: “While permissible following the guidelines, salespeople/canvassers must understand that the public may not be comfortable with this type of activity at their place of residence.” Please ensure that your volunteers and canvassers are aware of these Guidelines and know that going door-to-door may be different than it has been in past elections.
Questions on going door-to-door should be directed to the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency at 1-855-559-5502.
Absentee Voting Plans
Given the presence of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), we know that some voters will not be comfortable physically attending their assigned polling location this October. To account for this, we are ramping up our capacity to offer absentee voting, specifically mail in ballots. We are in the midst of developing an online absentee ballot application portal through which voters will be able to complete the entire application process, including uploading necessary identification documents. We anticipate that this system will be ready to “go live” and accept applications in mid-to-late August. Absentee ballot kits will not be mailed until late-September.
As plans finalize, I will provide you with much more detail on our plans for absentee voting. The main reason that I am passing this information along to you now is that your candidates and volunteers may field inquiries about mail in voting as they reach out to voters. If you could ask your party representatives to mention that this online application system is coming, we would greatly appreciate it. We would like to direct as many voters as possible to the online system and away from hard copy forms. I appreciate your cooperation, and as I said, more information on the online application system will be coming to you over the coming weeks.
Annual Returns – As Reviewed
Finally, just a note to let you know that we have finished our review of all annual returns and they will soon be posted to our website with the status changed to “As Reviewed.” I expect that the updated files will be available by the end of the day on Monday, July 27, if not sooner. Those fiscal returns can be found here: https://www.elections.sk.ca/reports-data/candidate-political-party-finances/fiscal-period-returns/.
Dr. Michael Boda
Chief Electoral Officer
Province of Saskatchewan