Saskatchewan smashes advanced voting records, candidates push Get Out The Vote campaign

Support is great, but without voters actually getting to the polls it can be tough to win. Get Out The Vote campaigns are always important, more so when safety is top of mind during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Advanced voting opened Tuesday in Saskatchewan and in just three days, over 119,000 people cast their ballot according to numbers from Elections Saskatchewan.

Read more: Some parents raise concerns over schools being used as polling stations in Saskatchewan election

The second day shattered records for the number of votes in a single day, surpassing the 2016 total by nearly 18,800 people.

Day one also beat out the 2016 record with around 41,500 votes, before the record was beat again on day two.

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Every election, every vote counts, but especially in a competitive riding like Saskatoon’s Churchill-Wildwood.

Saskatchewan Party incumbent Lisa Lambert won the seat by just over 900 votes in 2016. Both she and Saskatchewan NDP candidate Dave McGrane said voters have been turning out.

“We’ve had over 2,000 requests in Saskatoon Churchill-Wildwood alone for mail in ballots and then we’ve seen a very high turnout in the advanced polls this week,” Lambert said.

“We’re at nearly 2,000 people who have exercised their franchise and have gone out to the advanced polls.”

When out door knocking, candidates say there are still questions people have around voting this year.

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Read more: Saskatchewan election tracker 2020: Here’s what the parties are promising

“The big question is always ‘Where do I vote?’,” said McGrane.

“Pandemic, no pandemic, where do vote, when do I vote … how many people are let into the gym, right? Or the church basement? That’s a question. When are the best times to go?”

Candidates aren’t the only ones pushing people to get out and vote. The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation has been running social media ads calling for education to be top of mind when deciding whom to vote for.

The North Saskatoon Business Association is doing much the same, as well as sending direct messages to members.

Back on the door step, candidates in Churchill-Wildwood said one big challenge is how seniors could vote.

“I have 10 retirement residences and thankfully they will be actually having polls in those retirement residences and they will be able to vote safely right where they live,” said Lambert.

Still, with a pandemic comes health concerns, and voters say some details are still foggy.

Read more: Saskatchewan chief electoral officer says results could be delayed on election night

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“(People ask me) do you have to wear a mask or not at the polling station, where is the polling station, some people even asked me ‘Is it only mail in ballot this year?’” said McGrane.

“You have to really get out there on the doorstep and meet people.”

Advanced voting continues Saturday in the province. Polls open from noon to 8 p.m.

Election day is Monday, Oct. 26.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus.

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