Jean wor­ries reg­is­tra­tion woes will hin­der lead­er­ship vote

Calgary Sun - - NEWS - — James Wood

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.

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