March 4, 2020 – Fixed-date elections have been in place since 2008 in Saskatchewan. At the same time, provincial legislation is not inflexible with respect to calling an election before the date specified, retaining the prerogative of the Crown to dissolve the Legislative Assembly and cause an election.
Elections Saskatchewan has been preparing to conduct an election on October 26 since the passing of The Legislative Assembly (Election Dates) Amendment Act, 2018 on May 15, 2019. For more than a week, however, Premier Moe has stated consistently that, while the election date has been set for October 26, he retains the right to call an election earlier.
Given the uncertainty related to the date for the election, the Chief Electoral Officer has decided to revise Elections Saskatchewan’s planning position so that it can conduct an election as soon as possible if required.
“While we have been preparing for October 2020, the Premier has the authority to call an early election,” says Dr. Michael Boda, Chief Electoral Officer for Saskatchewan. “I have informed my head office and field leadership teams that we must be ready to administer an election as early as this spring.”
Transitioning to an earlier election readiness date will impact planned modernization efforts that ESK was preparing to implement in October 2020. Some of these innovations, including electronic poll books and ballot tabulators at certain urban advance polls, were outlined in an op-ed the Chief Electoral Officer wrote in October 2019 – https://www.elections.sk.ca/media/news-releases/a-modern-democracy-needs-modern-tools/.
“I have concluded that we cannot be prepared to run an election earlier than October 26, 2020 and move forward with modernization,” said Dr. Boda. “I have decided instead to suspend our modernization efforts for this election cycle and focus on implementing a traditional election in order to ensure the integrity of our process.”
“Modernizing our election system has always been described as a process that would play out over the course of three electoral cycles and three general elections. We would not have been able to come this far on modernization without legislative change pushed forward and passed with the support of both government and opposition MLAs. ESK will resume our modernization planning and efforts immediately after the province’s 29th General Election.”
Elections Saskatchewan (ESK) is the province’s nonpartisan election management body and an independent office of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan. ESK directs and supervises the administration of provincial electoral events, including the 2020 provincial election.
Information for voters, workers, media, candidates and parties at www.elections.sk.ca.
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