'It may well be a bit of a cliffhanger': Sask. electoral officer says mail-in voting could lead to wait for some results
SASKATOON -- Its election day in Saskatchewan and joining us now Chief Electoral Officer for the province of Saskatchewan Michael Boda joined CTV Saskatoon Morning Live co-anchor Stephanie Massicotte. You can watch their full conversation in the player above.
A busy day for you, it is election day, but a number of eligible voters have already cast their ballot, whether it be by mail-in vote or advanced polling, what did those numbers look like?
Well, it is a very different election for us we're seeing very elevated numbers in terms of people who are taking advantage of the vote by mail and advanced voting, significantly higher compared to 2016.
I was hearing it's close to double on the advanced side?
Absolutely. We're looking at close to double the numbers for advanced voting over the five days of voting. But vote by mail in 2016, 1% of our voters took advantage of the vote by mail or what's called absentee, and that's about 4000 voters. We've had applications for over 60,000 vote by mail ballots. Now we don't know how many of those will come back, those were applications that were approved and ballots were sent out but individuals may choose not to send their ballot in or participate, through the in-person voting.
Now the polls do close at 8 p.m., but the work does not stop there. Talk to us about counting the ballots and how that's changing with the increase in these mail-in ballots.
Right, it's, it's going to be another unique process this time around, because most of us are used to elections being decided on election night. That may not be the case in this context, there may be some races that are not decided so what we're calling election night or the first preliminary count will take place on October 26 after 8 p.m. And in that case, we'll be counting the advanced poll ballots and the election day ballots along with the personal care facility ballots that have been collected as well. That's the first preliminary. The second preliminary actually begins the second day after the election, election day plus two. And that's when we begin the process of counting all those ballots that were those vote by mail ballots that were received by 8 p.m. On October 26. We will begin that process, it may take a couple of days maybe three days to get through those. And then we'll continue to wait for those that are still coming to us through the postal system. And there's a thing called final count, and final count is not new to Saskatchewan it's been around for a very long time. people may not have known it. It matters this time because there'll be many vote-by-mail ballots that we will count beginning on the 12th day after the election. And we'll also count a number of special ballots that we've created including extraordinary voting.
So what does that mean for the official results then?
Well what it means, it may well be a bit of a cliffhanger. And so people may not know what the full results are on until the final count and that begins on November 7, and then it may take, it may take two or three days after that in order to finalize the results.
Could prove to be an exciting election then. Anything you want those voters heading to the polls today to know when it comes to safety?
Well we have been really trying to spread out the curve as with COVID-19 in terms of having people participate over a period of time rather than at peak times during the electoral period. Election day is not going to be any different; we would encourage voters to take advantage of coming in the middle of the morning or the middle of the afternoon so that we can spread out the participation in the process. We're going to have very safe polls, we've been working very closely with the Chief Medical Health Officer to ensure that we have proper procedures in place, he assures us that what we're doing will make it safe at the polls. If you're able to go to the local grocery store and you feel comfortable doing that, you will feel comfortable at the polls. There's physical distancing, hand sanitizer, there's procedures that we're following to make sure that we won't be spreading COVID-19, so I encourage voters to come.
Alright, well thank you so much for taking the time I know it is a busy day for you, Dr Boda so we appreciate it. And of course, hopefully everyone heads to the polls if they haven't already, they're open until 8 p.m. tonight.