Polls open in Saskatchewan as Sask. Party seeks 4th consecutive term

Polls are now open for Saskatchewan's 29th provincial election as the Saskatchewan Party seeks a fourth consecutive mandate.

Record-breaking numbers of voters have cast their ballots by mail or at advance polls

Polls are open for the 2020 Saskatchewan provincial election from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Elections Saskatchewan)

Polls are open for Saskatchewan's 29th provincial election as the Saskatchewan Party seeks a fourth consecutive mandate.

"This will be the largest non-wartime event in the history of our province, [with] more than 800,000 eligible voters," said Tim Kydd, director of communications and outreach for Elections Saskatchewan. 

A record-breaking 185,061 voters attended advance polls this year. Voters casting their ballots in-person on Monday can do so from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. CST.

According to Elections Saskatchewan, at least 35,000 of the 61,225 mail-in ballots requested by voters across the province came in over the weekend.

However, Elections Saskatchewan does not expect all of the results to be available after polls close Monday night.

Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe cast his vote in his home constituency of Rosthern-Shellbrook on Monday. NDP Leader Ryan Meili voted in advance polls last week. 

Meili rallies the troops

Meili met with his candidates Monday morning to offer a word of encouragement. He said he's proud of the party's campaign this year. 

"I am so grateful for all that you've put into this campaign," Meili said. "At the end of today, some of us will be MLAs, some of us won't. We know that's how this works, but every single one of us can be proud."

Meili also took a moment to acknowledge Regina-University candidate Aleana Young, as she gave birth Sunday. Young's opponent, incumbent Tina Beaudry-Mellor, also gave her a shoutout on Twitter. 

Meili reiterated his party's platform and spoke out again against Sask. Party cuts, which he said will hurt people and slow down the economy.

In what will be the third provincial election held in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic — the others were in New Brunswick on Sept. 14 and British Columbia on Saturday — 61,225 Saskatchewan residents have received mail ballots.

Ballots sent by mail will only begin to be counted on Wednesday. In tightly fought ridings, the margins may be too narrow to decide the race without accounting for the mail ballot results.

For those casting a ballot in-person on Monday, Elections Saskatchewan is strongly recommending that voters wear a mask at the polls and stay home if feeling unwell. 

Voters will need to bring identification, such as a driver's licence or government-issued photo ID, with their name, photo and current address. They can also bring two non-photo pieces of identification with their name, at least one of which shows their current address.

As well, another person assigned to the same voting location can vouch for a voter.

When the Saskatchewan Legislature was dissolved at the end of its fixed four-year term, the Saskatchewan Party held 46 seats and the New Democratic Party held 13. The remaining two seats in the 61-seat legislature were vacant.

Thirty-one seats are needed for a majority government. 

The last time the province was governed by a political party in its fourth term was the NDP before its 2007 defeat. That party, however, formed a coalition to stay in power in 1999.

The last party to win a long string of majorities in Saskatchewan without any help was the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation and its leader Tommy Douglas, who was elected for a total of five terms.

CBC's live coverage of the 2020 Saskatchewan election will begin at 7:30 p.m. CST.

With files from The Canadian Press

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