Saskatchewan’s vision to redesign the electoral system for 2024

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Saskatchewan’s Chief Electoral Officer released a reform that will help modernize elections in Saskatchewan.

Recommendations were made on how the legislation can be amended to serve voters, political parties and stakeholders in the upcoming general election in October 2024.

The modernization of current electoral procedures is designed to serve communities for decades to come.

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Dr. Michael Boda, Saskatchewan’s Chief Electoral Officer, said: “Residents of the province increasingly want to vote when and where it’s convenient for them and not at certain times or in certain places. A fully modernized voting process must ensure that voter convenience comes first.

“I have carefully evaluated other jurisdictions across the country and around the world as they have introduced modernized voting procedures and have observed the benefits first hand. We can provide a better experience for voters, our election workers and our political stakeholders that increases the integrity of our electoral system while providing better accessibility.

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Modernizing the electoral process must begin with bar code readers that will have the ability to scan voter information cards. This eliminates the need for election officials to write their information by hand and will allow electronic searching via a laptop computer.

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After voting on the spot, an election official will help voters drop their ballots into tabulators rather than ballot boxes. This will make in-person voting more efficient.

Ballot tabulators mean that a deputy returning officer no longer needs to be tethered to their ballot box throughout voting, which will reduce days of more than 12 hours for election officials.

Voters who choose not to vote in person will have the option of voting by mail. The mail-in voting opportunity will expand a dedicated advertising program to ensure communities are aware of the availability of this option.

In 2016, one in 100 people voted by post. In 2020, elections saw one in eight people vote by mail.

Security protocols will be in place to ensure that no voter can vote both in person and by mail.

Saskatchewan is also considering a limited introduction of Vote Anywhere locations that have never been offered in Saskatchewan and are still under consideration across the country. Vote Anywhere can serve any elector from any constituency in the province.

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This would mean, for example, that a voter who lives in one community but works in another could vote during a work break without traveling.

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The Chief Electoral Officer also suggested administrative changes to the province’s political finance system, changes to allow for increased collaboration with municipalities and an allowance to combat misinformation related to electoral processes.

If lawmakers accept some or all of the recommendations, a bill would pass in the spring of 2023.

This would give Elections Saskatchewan at least 17 months to implement the necessary changes before the October 2024 general election.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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