Advance Voting Update, Extraordinary Voting & More
Advance Voting Update
Yesterday was the first day of advance voting. I, along with several members of my team, were in Saskatoon to observe and were very pleased with how everything went. There were a few minor issues, but nothing more than what is to be expected when rolling out a suite of new processes. I am pleased to say that 712 people voted at advance locations yesterday, which is not far from the 751 who voted on the first day of advance voting in the 2020 general election. As by-elections often have considerably lower turnout than general elections, I consider this a success.
There is one small change from the procedures I outlined for you earlier this week. We will now be uploading strike-off data every 5 minutes as opposed to every 15 minutes. I hope that you find this change helpful.
Advance Vote Counting
One item to share with you on the counting of advance ballots. Advance votes from the Rusty MacDonald Branch Library will be counted in the same room as the by-election day votes from the Lawson Civic Centre.
The library and the civic centre are located at the same address (225 Primrose Drive) so this is simply a change in rooms within the same larger building. Please ensure your candidates and their representatives are aware.
Extraordinary Voting – CEO Order
You will recall that during our 2020 general election, we implemented a modified form of Vote by Mail called Extraordinary Voting. This was an option made available using couriers and/or personal delivery, to extend the time period to get a ballot kit to eligible voters forced to quarantine due to the COVID-19 virus. While this did not solve all the issues involved and there were still people affected by COVID after the application period for Extraordinary Voting had ended, the process offered lesson on how we could better serve voters affected by unforeseen or unexpected circumstances.
During the Athabasca by-election, Extraordinary Voting was offered in the form of Assisted Telephone Voting. Recently, I spoke with Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, about our by-election plans which reinforced that COVID-19 is still present in our community. Following that conversation and after discussion with our team, we established a form of Extraordinary Voting for the Meewasin by-election that relies on the structure of homebound voting to serve what I expect to be a very small number of possible voters.
As was the case during the general election, certain adaptations to The Election Act, 1996 (the Act) are required to administer a by-election given the presence of COVID-19. These adaptations are made using the authority found in section 7 of the Act.
Section 7(3)(a) of the Act 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, and the attached CEO Order, to your candidates, staff, and other party officials. The new CEO Order is:
CEO Order 2022-011 Extraordinary Voting – Voters Impacted by COVID-19: This CEO Order allows Elections Saskatchewan to offer a voting opportunity to those forced to self-isolate due to having COVID-19 or who cannot, as a last resort, attend a physical voting location for another reason. Eligibility will be determined by the Chief Electoral Officer on a case-by-case basis. The Order creates a modified form of homebound voting that is available from the close of Vote by Mail (Sept. 16) through to 3 p.m. on by-election day, Sept. 26.
Right of Access to Multi-Residential Buildings
The Election Act, 1996 requires that Elections Saskatchewan provide third parties with confirmation that candidates have a right to access condominiums and multi-residential apartment buildings if required. However, the actual right to access is outlined in The Condominium Property Act and The Residential Tenancies Act which fall under the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice.
We have heard from a number of candidates that they are experiencing difficulties in accessing these types of buildings. During the past general election, we worked with the Ministry of Justice to develop some materials including an information sheet that candidates and canvassers can print off and take with them when they go campaigning. This form is called the E-420 Right to Access and I have attached a copy and it.
Finally, we have produced an infographic detailing when various types of votes will be counted. This document will be made available to media as well and I hope that it is useful in understanding when and where different types of votes will be counted. Please note that the Second Preliminary Count will take place at our head office in Regina as will a portion of the Final Count dealing with Vote by Mail ballots. The returning officer will still conduct part of the Final Count in the returning office as well. If you have any question about this, please be in touch with me. We will offer more information on how you can observe the counting of votes in a future communique.
Dr. Michael Boda
Chief Electoral Officer
Province of Saskatchewan
All information related to the Meewasin By-Election can be found online at www.elections.sk.ca/saskatoonmeewasin2022.