Municipal, school elections can be delayed due to snowstorm: Saskatchewan government

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Municipalities and school divisions could postpone their elections Monday, if necessary, due to a record-setting snowfall and hazardous conditions on the roads, says the Saskatchewan government.

Government Relations Minister Lori Carr said in a news release that she signed a ministerial order allowing each municipality's returning officer to postpone its local election.

Elections can be put off to a date on or before Nov. 25, it said.

Saskatoon, which was hammered with snow all through the weekend, took the province up on the offer and announced polls would close early at 6:30 p.m. and voting would resume Friday.

A news release from Saskatoon late Monday afternoon said the announcement to close polls was delayed because election staff were speaking throughout the day with the minister's office.

It said the 600-plus municipal election workers who remained at polls Monday until 6:30 would continue to operate them like advanced polls.

“This is certainly unconventional, and we appreciate the frustration many of our citizens have felt about not knowing what options they had to vote,” Scott Bastian, Saskatoon's returning officer, said in the news release.

“This is why we continued to encourage those who could, to go to the polls. All except one were open by midday.”

Winter slammed into much of Western Canada over the weekend. Heavy winds and snowfall blanketed a wide swath spanning from much of southern Alberta and the Edmonton region to northern Manitoba.

Saskatoon officials said in a statement Monday evening that road conditions, though passable, were still dangerous due to snow accumulation, high winds and ice. Only large four-wheel-drive vehicles should be used if travel was necessary, it added.

The province said the government's priority was the safety of citizens. It noted that the elections order did not mean all elections across the province are postponed, but authorized it in areas hit hard by the snowstorm.

It asked local returning officers to communicate any changes clearly with citizens.

Voters in Saskatoon who have not yet cast ballots will be able to vote Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., but the city said there will be fewer polls.

The city said mail-in ballots will be received by the election office until 8 p.m. on Friday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 9, 2020.

The Canadian Press