Saskatchewan’s chief electoral officer released a reform that will help modernize Saskatchewan’s elections.
Recommendations have been made on how legislation can be changed to serve voters, political parties and stakeholders during the next general election in October 2024.
The modernization of current election procedures is designed to serve communities for decades to come.
Dr. Michael Boda, Chief Electoral Officer of Saskatchewan, says, “Residents of the province increasingly want to vote when and where it suits them and not during certain hours or at certain locations. A fully modernized voting process must ensure that the convenience of the voter is at the forefront.
“I have carefully assessed other jurisdictions across the country and around the world as they have introduced modernized voting procedures and have observed the benefits firsthand. We can offer a better experience for voters, for our election workers, and for our political stakeholders that increases the integrity of our election system while offering improved accessibility.”
The modernization of the election process is to begin with barcode readers that will have the ability to scan voter information cards. This eliminates the need for election officials to handwrite their information and will allow for electronic searching through a laptop.
After voting on location, an election official will assist voters in depositing their ballot into tabulators instead of ballot boxes. This will make in-person voting more efficient.
Ballot tabulators mean that a deputy returning officer no longer needs to be tied to their ballot box throughout voting, which will cut down 12-plus-hour days for election officials.
Voters who opt not to vote in person will have the option to vote by mail. The Vote by Mail opportunity will expand a dedicated advertising program to make sure that communities are aware of the availability of this option.
In 2016, one in 100 people were voting by mail. By 2020, elections saw one in eight people voting by mail.
Security protocols will be in place to ensure that no voter can vote both in person and by mail.
Saskatchewan is also looking at a limited introduction of Vote Anywhere locations which has never been offered in Saskatchewan and is still being explored across the country. Vote Anywhere can serve any voter from any constituency in the province.
This would mean, for example, that a voter who lives in one community but works in another could vote on a work break without travelling.
The chief electoral officer has also suggested administrative changes to the province’s political finance system, modifications to allow for increased collaboration with municipalities, and allowance for addressing disinformation related to electoral processes.
If legislators agree with some or all of the recommendations, a bill would be passed into law in spring 2023.
This would provide Elections Saskatchewan with at least 17 months to implement the necessary changes before the October 2024 general election.
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