Summary of Legislative Changes, Interpretation Bulletin & Absentee Voting
Summary of Recent Legislative Changes
You’ll know that I had originally planned to offer an overview of recent changes to The Election Act, 1996 (the Act) when we met on March 4 for a face-to-face meeting. While that meeting will not take place, I do want to ensure you are provided with an overview of what changes have been made to the Act.
Attached you will find a summary document offering background on the process that led to these amendments as well as a high level overview of the changes. This summary document includes changes contained in Bill 166, passed by the Legislative Assembly in December 2018 as well as Bill 202, passed by the Legislative Assembly in December 2019 and brought into force at the end of January 2020.
In some cases, the revisions to legislation have resulted in additional changes to forms and processes. For example, the E-405 Nomination Paper has been amended to remove the requirement for candidates as well as nominating voters to provide their occupation. In other cases, we have amended forms to clarify roles and responsibilities.
If you have questions on changes made to legislation, please contact my office directly. We would be pleased to explain this in greater detail.
Interpretation Bulletin – Auditor Preparation of Written Reports
The legislative changes described above have had a variety of impacts on the work required of chief official agents, business managers and auditors. Attached to this communique is a copy of ESKIB-2020/01, an Interpretation Bulletin describing the requirements placed on the auditor of a candidate or registered political party when preparing their written report under sections 237, 238 and 250 of the Act.
As described in the summary described in the topic above, section 222(2) of the Act has been amended to require auditors take any additional steps needed to ensure their report complies with the Act as well as generally accepted accounting principles. We have revised our audit guide (found on our website) to reflect these changes. We have also made a change to the E-403 Auditor Appointment form to require the auditor to confirm that they will fulfill their new audit and reporting requirements outlined in the attached Interpretation Bulletin.
Plan for Absentee Voting
As you know, voters who are unable to vote at an advance poll or on polling day during the upcoming election can vote by “absentee ballot.” Changes made in Bill 202 altered section 87 of the Act so that the Chief Electoral Officer could not receive absentee ballot applications earlier than seven months before polling day.
This change makes sense in the context of a fixed-date election as polling day is known well in advance and voters have ample time to apply. However, given the Premier’s recent comments on an early election and our own subsequent change in election readiness preparations, I have decided that I will begin accepting absentee voter applications as soon as possible. If polling day for our general election ends up being more than seven months from the date an application was received, we will contact the applicant to determine the status of their application. I have attached an Information Circular to this Communique that documents and explains this decision.
Once posted, absentee ballot application forms will be found on our website at https://www.elections.sk.ca/absenteevoter.
Dr. Michael Boda
Chief Electoral Officer
Province of Saskatchewan