Athabasca By-Election set for Tuesday, February 15
Earlier today, I received an order from the Lieutenant Governor in Council instructing me to issue a writ of election to our returning officer in the Constituency of Athabasca. By-election day will be Tuesday, February 15, 2022.
An election calendar listing key dates is attached.
Returning Office Contact Information
The returning officer for the constituency of Athabasca is Ms. Marlene Daigneault. I know that Marlene and her returning office team will offer excellent service to you, your candidates and the voting public. Contact information for the returning office is below:
Lavoie Street, Lot 9, Block C, Beauval
As shown on the election calendar, the nomination deadline is 2 p.m. on Saturday, January 29. For this by-election, given the state of COVID-19, I am requiring that candidates contact the returning officer and make an appointment to review the nomination package and to clarify any questions or issues. Our legislation does not allow the Chief Electoral Officer to provide for an extension of the nomination deadline so please ensure that all of your candidates are aware of this important deadline. Also, please ensure that your candidates are aware that our returning office will have COVID-19 protocols in place – including a requirement to wear a mask and to physically distance from others.
Update to Register of Political Parties – Section 226
Section 226 of The Election Act, 1996 required registered political parties to update (or to confirm) the information found in the register of political parties within ten days of the writs of election being issued. Your leader or chief official agent is also required to inform the Chief Electoral Officer as to how they wish the name of the party or its abbreviation (or both) to appear on the ballot and other election documents. This notice can be completed using the E-515 Confirmation of Party Details/Designation of Representatives for an Election Period form, which is attached and can also be found on our website here.
This is also an opportunity for your party leader to designate a representative to endorse candidates for the by-election if they wish to do so. I will send one more reminder of this requirement closer to the deadline. Contact Aaron Thompson at [email protected] if you have questions on this process or on the requirement to inform the CEO as to how your party should appear on the ballot.
In advance of our last general election, regulatory changes were made that clarified and better defined the emergency powers provided to the Chief Electoral Officer in section 7 of The Election Act, 1996 (the Act). This was in response to recommendations that I had made to the Government of Saskatchewan in advance of that event seeking explicit authority to be able to adapt electoral processes given the presence of COVID-19. The adaptations that I made in 2020 could 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. Given the current state of COVID-19 in the province, I will again be adapting legislation for those same two reasons.
The changes being made using the authority found in section 7 of the Act will be recorded and communicated to you through CEO Orders. Section 7(3)(a) 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 staff, candidates and other party officials. 7 CEO Orders are attached here:
CEO Order 2022-01 Adjusting the Absentee Voter Application Deadline: This CEO Order adjusts the deadline for voters to apply for absentee voting (Vote by Mail). The deadline will be moved up four days, from February 6 to February 2 (13 days before election day). This will provide more time for ballot kits to be mailed to voters (and for voters to return ballot kits to Elections Saskatchewan). This is a change from the general election where the deadline was moved from nine days before election day to eleven days before election day.
CEO Order 2022-02 Cleaning Fees – Polling Place Rentals: This CEO Order allows for Elections Saskatchewan to pay increased amounts to polling locations for COVID-19 related cleaning after Elections Saskatchewan uses a facility. The amounts that we traditionally pay are set in regulation and state that the prescribed fee is to include janitorial services. This Order allows for an additional payment of up to $200 with the CEO being able to authorize a higher payment.
CEO Order 2022-03 Voter Information Cards – Advance Voting Direction: This CEO Order allows Elections Saskatchewan to direct voters to a specific advance poll in their constituency on their Voter Information Card as opposed to listing every advance poll in the constituency. This should provide for a more even balance of voters at each advance voting location. A voter may still vote at any advance poll in their constituency – this Order only amends the content of the Voter Information Card.
CEO Order 2022-04 Election Proclamations – Personal Care Facility, Hospital and Remand Centre Polls: This CEO Order adjusts the contents of the election proclamation to allow more time and flexibility for Elections Saskatchewan to confirm polling locations in personal care facilities, hospitals, and remand centres. The proclamation will instead indicate that information on these polls can be found on the Elections Saskatchewan website.
CEO Order 2022-05 Limits on Candidate Representatives: This CEO Order allows Elections Saskatchewan to limit the number of candidates’ representatives who are present during the hours of voting and for the counting of votes. This will help to limit the number of people in any one location and allow for greater physical distancing. This Order also restricts candidates’ representatives from attending personal care facility, hospital and remand polls. As well, candidates’ representatives will be required to physical distance while in a polling location or at the counting of votes and to wear a mask at all times.
CEO Order 2022-06 Ballot Counterfoil Handling: This CEO Order allows the Deputy Returning Officer to remove the counterfoil from the ballot before handing both the ballot and the detached counterfoil to the voter. This will help to minimize the handling and passage of materials back and forth between voter and deputy returning officer. The voter keeps the counterfoil to have access to the instructions and deposits both ballot and counterfoil into the ballot box after voting.
CEO Order 2022-07 Trainers – Authority to Administer Oaths and Declarations: This CEO Order allows Elections Saskatchewan to have the Trainer position administer necessary oaths and declarations to election officials such as deputy returning officers and poll clerks. This Order is necessary because, due to physical distancing requirements, election official training will often be held outside of the returning office, which means that the Returning Officer and Election Clerk, who have the legislated authority to administer oaths and declarations, will not be in attendance at training sessions.
Questions on CEO Orders can be directed to Aaron Thompson. Please be aware that CEO Orders will be posted on our website here: https://www.elections.sk.ca/candidates-political-parties/bulletins-circulars/.
Dr. Michael Boda
Chief Electoral Officer
Province of Saskatchewan