While close races are par for the course in a provincial election, the sheer volume of mail-in ballots sent out in the lead up to Saskatchewan’s big day has delayed results in six ridings.
With fewer than 300 votes separating the top two candidates, Saskatoon Riversdale, Prince Albert Northcote, Regina University, Saskatoon University, Saskatoon Eastview and Saskatoon Meewasin were too close to call Monday night.
Elections Saskatchewan received a record 61,255 applications for mail-in ballots ahead of this fall’s contest. As of Monday afternoon, a spokesperson for the agency said approximately 35,000 had been returned. Those who chose this method of voting had until 8 p.m. Monday night to post their ballot.
Mail-in ballots won’t be considered until the second preliminary count on Wednesday. The final count begins more than a week after that, on Nov. 7. Official election results are expected Nov. 18.
With all of the polls reporting in Saskatoon Meewasin Monday night, Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili trailed Saskatchewan Party candidate, lawyer Ryland Hunter, who had a 1.5 per cent lead, by 83 votes. There were 1,656 mail-in ballots sent out in that electoral district.
Early in the writ period, Saskatchewan Party candidate Darryl Cooper stepped down in Saskatoon Eastview after being associated with social media posts about controversial right-wing conspiracy theories. The provincial NDP candidate, teacher Matt Love, led the Saskatchewan Party’s replacement candidate, businesswoman Chris Guérette, by 1.6 per cent of the vote, or 102 ballots, after all the of the polls reported. There were 1,555 vote-by-mail applications in Saskatoon Eastview.
In Saskatoon University, Saskatchewan Party incumbent Eric Olauson was 105 votes, or 2.2 per cent, behind NDP candidate Jennifer Bowes when all of the polls had reported. Elections Saskatchewan sent out 1,296 mail-in ballots to constituents there.
In a rematch of the 2016 provincial election, Saskatchewan Party incumbent and cabinet minister, Tina Beaudry-Mellor, narrowly led NDP candidate Aleana Young, a school board trustee and businesswoman, when all of the polls reported. Beaudry-Mellor was ahead by 3.4 per cent of the vote, or 178 ballots, at the end of the night in a riding with 1,814 applications to vote-by-mail.
While Prince Albert Northcote incumbent, the NDP’s opposition whip Nicole Rancourt, appeared to lead in the riding for most of the night, when all of the polls reported, she had fallen behind the Saskatchewan Party’s Alana Ross by 222 ballots, or 4.6 per cent of the vote. To members of that electoral district, 568 mail-in ballots were sent out.
In Saskatoon Riversdale, Saskatchewan Party candidate Marv Friesen led the NDP’s Ashlee Hicks by 5.3 per cent of the vote, or 274 ballots, after all of the polls reported. There were 920 vote-by-mail applications in that constituency.