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Turnout in 2020 Saskatoon municipal election lowest in 20 years

The 2020 Saskatoon municipal election was held amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and a severe winter storm.
The 2020 Saskatoon municipal election was held amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and a severe winter storm. File / Global News

Just over a quarter of the eligible voters in Saskatoon voted in the recent municipal election.

The city’s election office said 27.4 per cent of voters — 58,734 — cast their ballot either on election day, in advance polls or by mail-in ballots.

The last time voter turnout was this low was in 2000 when turnout was 26.4 per cent. Voter turnout was 40.09 per cent in 2016.

FULL COVERAGE: Saskatoon municipal election

The 2020 election was held amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and a severe winter storm that made streets impassable on Nov. 9.

“Given the environmental challenges confronted, voters went to the polls,” said returning officer Scott Bastian.

“Through it all, an important part was to adjust and comply with provincial legislation and orders. Options were provided to voters that fit within boundaries of the law.”

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Read more: Quarter of online mail-in voting applications denied, Saskatoon returning officer says

A ministerial order issued by the Saskatchewan government on the morning of Nov. 9 allowed municipalities to postpone elections due to weather.

Saskatoon announced late in the afternoon that the polls would close 90 minutes early and voting would resume on Nov. 13.

Bastian acknowledged his office experienced challenges, including long lineups at advance polls and issues with mail-in ballots.

Lineups of at least an hour were reported at some advance polling locations, where 19,666 people voted over seven days — 9.3 per cent of the roughly 216,000 eligible voters in Saskatoon.

Read more: Nearly 20K voters cast ballot in advance polls for Saskatoon civic election

The city’s election office also received roughly 17,000 mail-in applications, with nearly 4,500 denied.

“There will be an opportunity to explore facets of the 2020 election with the election office and perhaps in conjunction with other municipalities in Saskatchewan and Elections Saskatchewan,” Bastian said.

A report will be submitted to city council in the first quarter of 2021 outlining the election process, successes and challenges, and opportunities for future elections.

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— With files from Kyle Benning and Nathaniel Dove

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