Jean worries registration woes will hinder leadership vote
UCP leadership candidate Brian Jean sounded the alarm over the electronic voting system in the United Conservative Party’s leadership contest, saying Wednesday thousands of party members may not be able to vote because they aren’t registered.
But with the deadline for party members to register days away, the UCP brass says the process is running smoothly aside from a few hiccups.
To select the new party’s first leader, UCP members will vote online or by phone in the three-day period ending Oct. 28. UCPers had to have their party membership by Sept. 29 and then register, providing proof of identity, by 5 p.m. this Friday, by mail or online.
But in a news release and Facebook video released Wednesday, Jean said that under the “complicated” and “cumbersome” system, many members don’t even realize they have to register as the second step in the process.
Many of those who do try to register are encountering technical problems, especially in rural Alberta where Internet service is slower, said the Fort McMurray-Conklin MLA and former Wildrose leader.
“Unfortunately, our party committee has chosen a leadership election system where, if things don’t change, over 40,000 party members may not be able to vote,” said Jean.
The party’s executive director, Janice Harrington, rejected the contention there are problems with the system beyond a few stumbling blocks.
In an interview, she said there were 50,000 members registered by Wednesday afternoon, with party staff registering members at a rate of seven per minute.
“Considering that past leadership experience have shown that 65 per cent of members at most participate, I’m very confident that as many members who want to register will get registered,” said Harrington. “It’s working extraordinarily well, actually.”
Harrington said less than eight per cent of memberships had been rejected, mainly because the members hadn’t provided required information. Party staff work with those members to ensure they can register, she said.
The UCP has also worked to ensure members know they must register, to the point the party has annoyed some members because of too much contact, said Harrington.
When contacted by Postmedia, other leadership campaigns acknowledged some issues with the registration process, though they declined to criticize the party.