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For the 2016 vote, there were about 1,100 locations across the province staffed by 13,000 workers, Boda said. This time around, plans are for a little more than 2,000 polling locations with between 15,000 to possibly 17,000 workers.

“Just like there are voters, there’ll be workers who are immunocompromised or they feel there’s a health risk,” Boda said. “I have been receiving emails from them and I get it.”

Shahab has attributed a slight rise in cases to people violating a 30-person gathering limit he put in place to reduce spread of the novel coronavirus. The Ministry of Health has said Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 infection rate is still lower than other provinces currently experiencing a spike. But September is a critical time as more people head indoors because of cooler weather and schools reopening.

Boda is encouraging people 16 and older to become election workers. He wants to replace older volunteers and other regulars who are not feeling comfortable about working during the pandemic. Adjustments can be made if the agency doesn’t recruit enough people, Boda said. And mail-in ballots as well as five days of advanced voting will help reduce pressures on election day.

“But it still will be problematic if we don’t have the people to do this.”

Boda also about 15,000 applications have come in from people who want to vote by mail in the election. That’s already more than three times higher than in 2016, when about one per cent of residents — mostly students, snowbirds and people living outside of their constituencies — took advantage of absentee voting, he said.

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