Voter turnout in Saskatchewan election broke records for mail-in ballots, but less overall turnout

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan Party wins 4th consecutive term after pandemic election'
Saskatchewan Party wins 4th consecutive term after pandemic election
In yet another provincial election held during the pandemic, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has led the Saskatchewan Party to a majority government. As Katelyn Wilson reports, the party hasn't had four consecutive terms that in 60 years. – Oct 27, 2020

Despite more people voting in Saskatchewan’s 29th general election than they did in 2016, the overall voter turnout was on the decline compared to the province’s previous election.

According to Elections Saskatchewan, a total of 445,011 people voted this year, up from the 434,244 who voted in 2016. That is the most ballots cast in a Saskatchewan election since 2007, and second-most since 1991.

FULL COVERAGE: 2020 Saskatchewan Election

While more ballots were cast, the percentage of eligible voters who actually voted was down.

Overall voter turnout this year was 52.86 per cent compared to 53.5 per cent in April 2016.

This was the first year Saskatchewan has held an election during a pandemic. The election saw a significant shift in how voters chose to cast their ballot, said Elections Saskatchewan.

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In total, a record 61,255 vote by mail ballots were issued to voters and 56,547 were returned and counted.

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How the process works for the provincial election vote count

Advance voting also saw historic increases. In 2016, 110,716 people voted at advance polls. In 2020, that increased to 185,061, an increase of 67 per cent.

During a first preliminary count held on election night on Oct. 26, a total of 385,461 ballots were counted from advance voting polls, election day polls, and personal care facility polls.

A second preliminary count was held on October 28 and 29. At this count, all vote by mail ballots received before 8 p.m. on election day were counted — a total of 40,209 votes.

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The final count was Nov. 7 where the remaining vote by mail ballots were counted along with special ballots.

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“Administering an election during a pandemic was a significant challenge,” Chief Electoral Officer of Saskatchewan Michael Boda said in a statement.

“I’d like to thank our dedicated Field Leadership Team members in all 61 constituencies and the thousands of people throughout the province who gave their time to work at advance and election day polls.”

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USask political scientist’s post-election analysis

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