It is election day in Saskatchewan. Polls are open from 9am to 8pm. Here is a recap of week four of the election campaign.
ADVANCED POLLS AND VOTE-BY-MAIL
According to Elections Saskatchewan, a record-breaking 185,061 votes were cast in the advanced polls that ran from Tuesday to Saturday.
More than 61,000 vote-by-mail applications were also approved by Elections Saskatchewan. This could cause a delay in announcing winners in constituencies where the vote is close. The preliminary count will take place on election night and will encompass ballots from advance voting, day-of voting and voting in personal care facilities. That will account for most of the ballots cast in the provincial election. There will then be an additional counting process where the mail-in ballots received by Elections Saskatchewan by October 26 will be counted on October 28. The remaining vote-by-mail ballots — those postmarked by October 26 but arriving after that date — will be tallied in the final count beginning November 7.
Election Saskatchewan has said they are planning to prioritize those constituencies which are very close, and which have enough vote-by-mail ballots to potentially flip the seat from one candidate to another.
RACES TO WATCH
As previously highlighted, there are many constituencies across the province that were won in very close races in 2016. Please click here for an article from CBC Saskatchewan, and here for an article from CTV News Regina that break down the races to watch.
There were three new poll results released over the weekend. All three polls show that the Sask Party is still in the lead and will likely win with a majority government. Mainstreet Research, Research Co., and Forum Researchall show the Sask Party with 18-20 point lead over the NDP. While these new polls show the Sask Party lead shrinking slightly, the outlook remains clear for a Sask Party victory on election night.
Both Scott Moe and Ryan Meili faced some criticism this week for being photographed at campaign events while not wearing masks.
Scott Moe was photographed shopping without a mask on a campaign stop on Tuesday. He responded by saying that he was physically distanced. Ryan Meili also faced the same criticism for not wearing a mask during campaign photo-ops. Meili said they take extra precautions when taking photos.
While it is not mandatory in Saskatchewan to wear masks, Meili has said he would consult with public health officials to establish a threshold for a mandatory mask rule if elected premier.
In a time where typical campaigning had to be adjusted, the Sask Party held two drive-in rallies this week – one in Regina and one in Saskatoon. The “Big Honkin’ Rally” in Regina saw around 200 cars gather, spaced at least two meters apart, and the Saskatoon rally garnered around 100 cars. Moe delivered a similar speech to his party faithful at both rallies where people showed support by people honking their horns.
Meili and the NDP were the first to host a drive-in rally in Saskatoon called “Drive-in Rally for Ryan” and held another in Regina on Friday. Along with a speech from Meili, both NDP rallies included musical performances by local artists.
Both party leaders made their final pushes this week, encouraging Saskatchewan residents to get out and vote. They could both be found in battleground constituencies across the province, including Saskatoon, Regina, Moose Jaw, and Prince Albert.
Scott Moe promised that if the Sask Party is re-elected, the province would not see a repeat of March’s economic shutdown — despite rising number of COVID-19 cases across the province and new a daily record of 78 new cases reported on Saturday.
In his final campaign stops, NDP Leader Ryan Meili reminded voters that the choice is clear between cuts and investment, between Scott Moe’s plan for austerity that will slow down the economy and hurt people, and their plan to help people out, get the economy moving, make the choices today that will improve lives today and in the years to come.