NDP bill contains ‘unintended consequences’: electoral head
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.