As you know, Elections Saskatchewan has been focusing increasingly on innovations that will allow us to more effectively serve our stakeholders across the province. Despite still being under development, the Permanent Register of Voters has had a significant impact on voter registration coverage and currency levels. During the 2016 general election, more than 94 percent of all eligible voters in the province were registered – a significant increase from the 76.7 percent of eligible voters registered during the 2011 general election. Registration numbers crept even higher during the recent Meewasin by-election to 95.44 percent. These improvements are allowing us to better provide for the democratic needs of our voters, political parties and candidates.
Success in innovation isn’t always straightforward, however. I need to let you know about a recent situation that could, potentially, negatively impact the coverage and accuracy of the register of voters in the lead up to the Saskatoon Fairview by-election.
In mid-2015, Elections Saskatchewan established an Information Sharing Agreement (ISA) with eHealth Saskatchewan to acquire certain information on voters in the province. This information has been used to regularly update the Permanent Register of Voters, helping to ensure it has been as up-to-date as possible.
In late 2016, staff at Elections Saskatchewan discovered that some of the data shared by eHealth was not within the scope of what was agreed to in the ISA. This was promptly reported to eHealth, who subsequently reported it to the province’s Information and Privacy Commissioner. Following an investigation, the Commissioner released a report recommending that the data transfer between eHealth and Elections Saskatchewan be suspended until regulatory changes are made. If you are interested in reviewing the Commissioner’s report, you can find it here: https://oipc.sk.ca/assets/hipa-investigation-008-2017.pdf.
The exact impact of the suspension in data transfers is yet to be determined. It is unclear as to exactly how long it will take for regulatory change to happen but it is likely that it will have an impact on the voters lists that we are able to provide to you for the upcoming Saskatoon Fairview by-election. This has all taken place very recently, with the Commissioner’s report issued on Friday, June 23. We are currently reviewing voter registration data in the constituency of Saskatoon Fairview and we will determine what, if any, measures need to be taken to ensure adequate registration coverage.
We will continue to keep you up-to-date through our communiques as we learn more about the impact this situation will have on the coming by-election. In the meantime, however, I hope that you won’t hesitate to be in touch with Jennifer Colin, Deputy CEO, Corporate Services and Electoral Finance, at [email protected] if you have any questions on voter registration.
Attached with this Communique, you will find the slides Elections Saskatchewan presented at our June 14 meeting. I hope you will find these useful and that you will consider sharing them with other members of your registered political party.
Wishing all of you a happy Canada Day as we head into the long weekend. I hope your schedules allow for some time off over the course of the next few months.
Dr. Michael Boda
Chief Electoral Officer
Province of Saskatchewan