Residents of Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation (PBCN) hoping to vote in next week’s provincial election will have until Tuesday evening to do it after a COVID-19 related rule change.
Due to the recent COVID-19-related lockdown of PBCN reserves, the band has cancelled all in-person advance and election day polls in PBCN communities. Instead of voting in person, PBCN residents will need to vote using what Elections Saskatchewan calls an “extraordinary voting ballot kit”, which will be delivered by election officials directly to voters’ homes. These kits are only available until Oct. 20. No other polls will be held in PBCN communities, including Pelican Narrows, Sandy Bay, Deschambault Lake, Southend, Kinoosao and Sturgeon Landing and the Amiskosakahikan reserve in Denare Beach. The change will not impact areas of Denare Beach not covered by the reserve.
The kits can be obtained by calling Elections Saskatchewan at 1-866-351-0040. All callers will be asked their name, home community, birth date, address, phone number and whether or not they are a PBCN member.
The change, according to an Elections Saskatchewan statement issued online Oct. 18, came after discussions between the provincial body and PBCN officials, including Chief Peter Beatty.
“Elections Saskatchewan will offer an alternative form of voting that public health officials say is safe for voters,” reads the Elections Saskatchewan announcement.
“Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, this will be your only opportunity to get a ballot.”
Lac La Ronge Indian Band and Red Earth Cree Nation, both of which have seen a recent increase in COVID-19 cases, have separate rules regarding the upcoming vote, made after consultation with Elections Saskatchewan.
The Elections Saskatchewan deadline for applying for a mail-in ballot passed Oct. 15 - three days before the change for PBCN residents was announced.