Piloting Directives & Advance Voting Modifications

Piloting Directives – Saskatoon Meewasin

The Chief Electoral Officer has the authority, under section 5.1 of The Election Act, 1996 (the Act), to direct the use of “an alternate procedure, equipment or technology” during the administration of a by-election. During the upcoming Saskatoon Meewasin by-election, which must be held, by legislation, no later than December 31, 2022, I have determined that Elections Saskatchewan will be piloting three alternate procedures.

By CEO Order, I am directing the following:

  • Vote by Mail: A centralized Vote by Mail process consistent with the process Elections Saskatchewan followed during Saskatchewan’s 29th General Election, held on October 26, 2020;
  • New voting record: The use of a new voting record at voting locations that combines the existing voters list and poll book into one document that also includes a unique ID barcode for each voter; and
  • Elimination of Poll Clerk: The elimination of the poll clerk election official position.

The primary purpose of all these pilots described in this letter is preparing to offer a substantially modernized voting process during our 2024 election. The upcoming by-election is a key opportunity for Elections Saskatchewan to learn what works, and what doesn’t work as it prepares for a general election in 2024. And the limited scale of a by-election allows this to take place while still ensuring the integrity and security of the event.

The CEO Orders allowing for these pilot projects to move ahead are attached. Over the coming weeks and months, I will share more details on each of these pilot projects and what impact they will have on the processes that you are used to. I am very much looking forward to sharing the results of these pilot projects with you as I look toward our next general election, scheduled for October 2024.

Advance Voting Modifications

In anticipation of administering a very different advance voting system in 2020, amendments were made to The Election Act, 1996 that gave the Chief Electoral Officer broad authority to implement the use of electronic poll books and ballot tabulators at advance voting locations. While we ultimately did not use this authority in 2020, this by-election represents an excellent opportunity for Elections Saskatchewan. 

Section 135.1(2) of the Act allows the Chief Electoral Officer to direct the use of electronic poll books at advance polls and to modify the voting processes where necessary to allow for this change. While section 135.1 does not have the same requirements to inform stakeholders as section 5.1, I am nonetheless informing you in advance and will keep you apprised at all times of what we are planning in this regard. I also expect that there may be opportunities for you to observe this technology in real time during the by-election – more information to come once we know dates and locations.

For clarity, I am not authorizing the use of vote counting equipment for this by-election. Preparations for testing and implementing the use of ballot tabulators would require more time than we have to prepare for the upcoming by-election.

Non-Legislated Pilot Projects

In addition to the formal pilot projects I am authorizing under section 5.1 of the Act and the advance voting modifications made possible by section 135.1, there are a number of other pilot projects that we are working on for this by-election that can be achieved through administrative changes alone.

In the coming weeks, I will provide you with a comprehensive list of what we will be doing that is different than past events and what impact it may have. We hope to roll out a number of items that will improve the service we offer to you, your candidates, their business managers, and our workers.  

Dr. Michael Boda
Chief Electoral Officer
Province of Saskatchewan