NDP bill con­tains ‘un­in­tended con­se­quences’: elec­toral head

Calgary Herald - - CITY - EMMA GRANEY egraney@post­media.com twit­ter.com/Em­maLGraney

The man in charge of Al­berta elec­tions wasn’t fully con­sulted be­fore the gov­ern­ment tabled a 105-page piece of leg­is­la­tion that would make ma­jor changes to ad­vance polls and po­lit­i­cal do­na­tions.

In a let­ter sent to Christina Gray, the min­is­ter for demo­cratic re­newal, chief elec­toral of­fi­cer Glen Resler laid out a host of con­cerns with the “po­ten­tial un­in­tended con­se­quences” of Bill 32, An Act to Strengthen and Pro­tect Democ­racy in Al­berta.

In short, Resler wrote he is “con­cerned that Bill 32 will de­te­ri­o­rate the ser­vice pro­vided to elec­tors.”

Two ma­jor con­cerns were at the heart of Resler’s let­ter — shift­ing pre-polling days closer to the writ be­ing dropped, and not al­low­ing Elec­tions Al­berta to use elec­tronic tab­u­la­tors to count ad­vance votes.

Resler sup­ports ad­ding the ex­tra day, but said the fact it’s ear­lier means the Elec­tions Al­berta won’t have time to print and dis­trib­ute where-to-vote cards or add names of can­di­dates to bal­lots.

An­other Bill 32 change will al­low vot­ers to cast a bal­lot for their lo­cal can­di­date at any ad­vance poll across the prov­ince. That’s great, Resler said, but be­cause Elec­tions Al­berta hasn’t been given the author­ity to use elec­tronic tab­u­la­tors to count those ad­vance votes, re­sults will likely be de­layed.

“Since I pro­vided rec­om­men­da­tions to the Spe­cial Se­lect Ethics and Ac­count­abil­ity Com­mit­tee, I have not been con­sulted in re­la­tion to pol­icy di­rec­tion lead­ing up to Bill 32,” Resler wrote.

“I have, how­ever, had the op­por­tu­nity to pro­vide feed­back on the work­a­bil­ity of var­i­ous pro­pos­als. The con­cerns I set out (in the let­ter) re­flect some of that feed­back.”

On Thurs­day, Resler’s let­ter had the United Con­ser­va­tive Party call­ing for Bill 32 to be sent back to com­mit­tee for fur­ther con­sul­ta­tion.

Mul­ti­ple UCP MLAs stood in the leg­is­la­ture, Resler’s let­ter in hand, say­ing the gov­ern­ment failed to con­sult.

The mo­tion to send it to com­mit­tee was put for­ward by Nathan Cooper, UCP MLA for Olds-Dids­bury-Three Hills.

“You would think that if you were go­ing to be in­tro­duc­ing a piece of leg­is­la­tion in the cham­ber, you would have at least asked one of the most im­por­tant stake­hold­ers when it comes to this bill,” Cooper said.

But Gray told re­porters the Op­po­si­tion had mis­char­ac­ter­ized Resler’s words, and of­fi­cials have worked with him through­out the process.

“I ap­pre­ci­ate he has sent a let­ter, and I am look­ing at the feed­back he sub­mit­ted se­ri­ously,” Gray said.

“We will con­tinue to work with the chief elec­toral of­fi­cer to make sure we have strong elec­tions here in Al­berta.”

Resler was un­avail­able for com­ment.

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