New options in Saskatchewan aim to remove barriers to voting
SASKATOON – Saskatchewan voters will have more options to vote in the upcoming provincial election. It’s because of a set of changes originally tabled by Elections Saskatchewan in 2013 that serve as a way to remove barriers to voting.
They include changes to advance voting.
Eligible voters will now be able to cast their ballots before election day for any reason. Previously, those participating in advance polls had to declare they’d be out of their constituency on voting day. It’s an added convenience that already exists elsewhere.
In addition, people who can’t travel to a polling station will now be able to apply to vote from home, along with their caregiver, if they are also eligible to vote.
“Anything that makes it easier to get to the polls, anything that makes it easier to access your ballot, is a positive thing for democracy and we should celebrate that,” says Charles Smith, a political science professor at St. Thomas More College in Saskatoon.
The province is also in the midst of creating a new permanent voter registry. Elections Saskatchewan is encouraging voters to register online or by phone. The move means elections staff no longer have to go door to door to register voters, except in a few isolated cases.
“The downside, of course, is that you miss that personal communication,” Smith says. “The permanent voters list is not also always as accurate.”
In 2011, the voter turnout was 66 per cent, the lowest since 1999 and a far cry from the recent peak of 83.9 per cent in 1982.
The Saskatchewan provincial election is on April 4, 2016. The writ is expected to drop in early March.
© 2016 Shaw Media