Coronavirus: Saskatchewan’s chief electoral officer given full power to ensure safe election

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: Saskatchewan government grants chief electoral officer authority to enact safety measures for fall election' Coronavirus outbreak: Saskatchewan government grants chief electoral officer authority to enact safety measures for fall election
WATCH: During Wednesday's COVID-19 update, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said the provincial government "has responded" to the chief electoral officer's recommendations to ensure the fall provincial election period could occur safely, amid the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier in the day, cabinet approved changes to the Election Act regulations, giving the chief electoral officer authority to take necessary actions to ensure the safety of voters – May 13, 2020

When voters head to the polls for Saskatchewan’s 29th general election, it will be done under the authority of the province’s chief electoral officer.

The Government of Saskatchewan has granted Michael Boda full power to “take any necessary action” to ensure the election on Oct. 26 is conducted safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are all having to adapt to a new normal of carrying on with our lives, but doing so in a way that reduces the spread of COVID-19,” said Premier Scott Moe in a statement.

Moe says the fall election will go ahead as planned, but it will look different.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan voters will head to the polls in October, bipartisan election plan in the works

Story continues below advertisement

“The chief electoral officer wanted to make sure that he had the authority to make any changes to the voting process he feels are necessary to ensure a safe and successful election, so the government is strengthening his emergency powers to ensure he has that authority,” Moe said.

Earlier this month, Boda requested emergency powers should he have to change voting procedures during the pandemic.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

The Election Act Regulations was amended on Wednesday to reflect his request.

Because of the public health emergency, Boda now has the power to make changes to The Elections Act in order to minimize health risks to the public.

“Everyone needs to feel safe about going to vote this fall,” Moe said.

“That means ensuring good physical distancing practices for both voters and Elections Saskatchewan workers to follow, just like we do now in grocery stores and other public places.

Moe said he is confident Elections Saskatchewan — which is an independent body of the Legislature Assembly — will take the right steps to ensure a safe election.

An Ipsos poll, conducted exclusively for Global News, found 72 per cent of Canadians support postponing elections for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.

Story continues below advertisement

Support for delaying elections was lowest in Saskatchewan and Manitoba at 59 per cent.

The Ipsos poll noted that “perhaps not coincidentally” the two provinces with the highest support for moving forward with their elections also have the lowest recorded levels of satisfaction with their provincial premiers.

READ MORE: Most Canadians back postponing elections until after COVID-19 pandemic: Ipsos poll

Under Saskatchewan’s Legislative Assembly Act, the general election has to take place on or before Oct. 26 despite the coronavirus pandemic. The latest the election can be called is September.

Last week, opposition leader Ryan Meili said a bipartisan election plan is in the works to ensure voter turnout is high, and people feel safe to vote.

“There is an appetite to make sure this is done in a bipartisan fashion to come up with a plan that keeps in mind what really matters — that people are able to vote, and they’re able to vote safely,” said Meili.

The government also announced on Wednesday that this year’s resort village elections will be moved from July 25 to Aug. 29. The decision was made following consultation with municipal organizations.

With files from Emerald Bensadoun.


Sponsored content