Premier Scott Moe cagey on potential for spring election
Vote could come before Oct. 26 ‘fixed election date’ if premier chooses
Saskatchewan voters know they will have to head to the polls no later than Oct. 26, 2020, to cast a ballot in a provincial election, but it could happen sooner.
On Monday, Premier Scott Moe was non-committal about that date and said that being premier gives him the last word on whether an election will be called before then.
"I'll consult with the premier," Moe said jokingly.
In Saskatchewan, the electoral period is a minimum of 27 days to a maximum of 34 days.
"Four years for us would be up some time here this spring. But as I say that, Oct. 26 is the date that we're preparing for," Moe said Monday.
Saskatchewan's last general election was on April 4, 2016. If Oct. 26, 2020 is election day, there will have been four years, six months and 22 days between elections.
The Saskatchewan Party government passed fixed election laws in 2008. In Oct. 2018, the province moved municipal elections to Nov. 9, 2020 because the original dates were too close to the provincial election.
"Fall provincial elections make sense because they don't disrupt the legislative calendar," a government spokesperson said at the time.
Saskatchewan Party Executive Director Patrick Bundrock said "there has been lots of speculation" about an early election call. He said the party will be able to adjust if Moe decides to move the election date up.
"We're already outside engaging in voter contact and doing those activities as do other political parties. If the premier should call an election the party would be ready," Bundrock said.
The Saskatchewan Party has the advantage of more incumbent and nominated candidates. It has 39 candidates running for re-election, with 54 of 61 total candidates nominated.
The NDP has nine incumbent MLAs seeking re-election, with 28 of 61 nominations filled.
NDP MLA for Athabasca Buckley Belanger has not declared whether he is running for re-election. He was first elected in 1995.
Athabasca is one of two seats currently held by the NDP that has no one nominated from either party. Saskatoon Nutana is the other. Both parties have nomination meetings set for next month.
"We are a political party that exists to win elections. We are ready," said Saskatchewan NDP CEO John Tzupa.
He said if an early election is called, the party would have to speed up its nomination process. He said the party will be fielding a full slate of candidates.
"If they decided to not follow the law we would have to adapt," Tzupa said.
Spring sitting begins Monday
A late spring election would make for a busy next few months for MLAs. The 10-week spring sitting of the legislature begins on March 2, with the budget to come on March 18.
Moe has spent the pre-sitting period travelling around the province.
Stops in several Sask. Party constituencies alongside MLAs include:
- Feb. 15 - Moose Jaw.
- Feb. 18 - Melfort/Yorkton.
- Feb. 19 - Swift Current.
- Feb. 20 - Saskatoon.
- Feb. 21 - Battlefords.
- Feb. 25 - Lloydminster.
Elections Saskatchewan says it will be ready whenever voting day is declared. The premier has the authority to decide and does not need to give Elections Saskatchewan any advanced warning.
Saskatchewan Chief Electoral Officer Michael Boda wrote in an editorial published by CBC in October that the province would be moving to update its elections from a technological standpoint beginning in 2020.
"An elector's Voter Information Card will be scanned in order to call up a voter's relevant registration information. On the other end of the process, a paper ballot that is cast will be counted using tabulators that minimize the counting process at the end of a long day when election workers are most tired," Boda wrote.
The advancements would start slowly before expanding over the next two provincial elections.
"For the coming provincial election in October 2020, electronic pollbooks and tabulators will be introduced at advance polls in Saskatoon and Regina," Boda wrote.