Saskatoon city council approves mail-in ballot changes for fall election
A voter casts a ballot in the 2011 federal election in Toronto on May 2, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
SASKATOON -- City councillors approved an amendment to the Election Bylaw Tuesday afternoon at a special meeting, making it easier to cast a ballot by mail in the upcoming fall civic election.
This change broadens the scope of who can sign a mail-in ballot application as a witness so that any eligible voter may serve in the role.
It also allows voters to submit identification electronically and sign up for mail-in balloting online.
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Another amendment to the city's election bylaw would allow voters to submit identification electronically and sign up for mail-in balloting online.
When the changes were first discussed during a city committee meeting in July, Coun. Darren Hill raised concerns about the potential for fraud if mail-in balloting numbers surge.
A University of Saskatchewan expert CTV spoke with said instances of electoral fraud are incredibly rare in Canada.
At Tuesday’s meeting, council also received an information report that outlines an increase in advance polling stations and looks at safer options to vote in the municipal election in light of COVID-19.
The report said the election team is currently finalizing plans to implement Saskatoon’s first-ever drive thru advance poll station, located in the city’s north end.
The drive thru would only be held for one day – Sunday, Nov. 1 as a test run, according to returning officer Scott Bastian.
Hill said he would’ve liked to see the drive thru happen on the Saturday as well.
“I question why we would only have it on one day – the Sunday – especially when we’re located in the north industrial. I understand you don’t want to impact the businesses, but a majority of the business in the north industrial are not operating on a Saturday,” he said at the meeting.
Ward 9 Coun. Bev Dubois also questioned why only one drive thru station is planned.
Bastian said one reason is that it’s unknown how successful it will be as it hasn’t been done in Saskatoon before.
The report said 11 advanced poll locations will be available between Oct. 30 and Nov. 5 – an increase from the 2016 election.
Sixty-six polling stations will be open on election day, according to the report.
The municipal election is set for Nov. 9.
--With files from CTV News Saskatoon's Josh Lynn