On Oct. 26, Saskatchewan residents will head to the polls to elect a new Legislative Assembly.
For the first time in the 115-year history of the province, the election will be happening in the midst of a global pandemic.
"Physical polls will look somewhat different for voters this time around," Dr. Michael Boda, Chief Electoral Officer of Saskatchewan, said.
Elections Saskatchewan has been working in consultation with Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab, Public Health and House Leadership representation from the Sask. Party and NDP to ensure voting is as safe as possible for the public.
"They have come to the conclusion that we can conduct the election safely, including the voting system, it will be different than it was last time and hopefully different than it will be next time," Sask. Party Leader Scott Moe said.
More than 433,000 votes were cast in the 2016 provincial election. Only one per cent of those votes came through mail-in ballots, however, that’s expected to change this time around due to COVID-19.
"We’ve had to build capacity for a greater number of vote by mail ballots," Boda said.
The deadline to register to vote by mail was Oct. 15.
Another option for avoiding crowds on election day is to vote in the advanced polls, which will run from Oct. 20-24. Details on where you can cast your ballot can be found the voter information card sent in the mail or on Elections Saskatchewan’s website.
"I encourage anybody who’s going to vote in person, think about advanced polls where crowds are lower and wear a mask, that’s a really simple thing you can do to protect yourself and others when you go to vote," Sask. NDP Leader Ryan Meili said.
Elections Saskatchewan is expanding the number of polls in the province for this year’s election to encourage physical distancing.
Last election, there were about 1,100 polls set up throughout the province and this year, there will be about 2,000.
More than 15,000 election workers will be needed for election day.
"You’re paid for training and for working on election day, it will be safe, we’ve been working with the Chief Medical Health Officer in order to make it as safe as going to the grocery store," Boda said.
"We just hope that many new people who haven’t worked with us before will take this opportunity to express their interest and check out the democratic process."
Anyone heading to vote in person in the advanced polls or on election day is reminded to bring a piece of ID, like a driver’s license, and a mask.