Sask. NDP's relative success in mail-in balloting follows trends seen elsewhere: analyst

·2 min read

Ballots sent by mail appear to have swung at least two constituencies in Saskatchewan's provincial election and could impact a few more during the final count on Nov. 7.

Thursday saw Sask. Party candidates concede to NDP Leader Ryan Meili and candidate Aleana Young after a round of mail-in ballots were counted.

Overall, CBC poll analyst Eric Grenier saw the mail-in ballots disproportionately cast in favour of the NDP compared to those that were cast in-person.

"While the Saskatchewan Party seems to have just narrowly won that mail-in ballot versus the NDP, the margin is more or less a tie between the two," Grenier said.

"The Saskatchewan Party won the vote in-person and early voting by about 34 points, so it does show that those people who were voting by mail were going to the NDP more than they did the people who voted in-person."

He noted there were more NDP voters in the urban areas to start, but polling in the middle of the campaign suggested NDP voters would be more likely to cast their ballots by mail because of concerns about voting in-person during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grenier said the number of NDP voters who expressed concerns about in-person voting was about two-to-one to Sask. Party voters.

COVID-19 concerns, he said, seems to be a "left" and "right" issue when broken down further and elsewhere in the world.

"We've seen this elsewhere. We saw this in British Columbia, polls were suggesting that the NDP was likely to do much better in the mail ballots once those were counted," Grenier said.

"We've seen this also in the United States, where Democrats are much, much, much more like to say they've voted early, they've voted by the mail than Republicans who are much more likely to vote in person."

Record numbers of mail-in ballots have already been cast in the U.S. election and it may be days after election night before the results are finalized there, he said.

"The way that things happen in the States often sort of colours everyone's views of elections everywhere," Grenier said.

"Maybe in subsequent elections, if there are a lot of people still voting by mail, there will be less of an expectation that you get definitive results on election night."