Polling station may prove a trek for some
Residents in one city riding will vote in another
Some residents in the Edmonton-Strathcona riding will have to travel nearly four kilometres to a polling station outside their riding to vote May 5, Elections Alberta says.
Voters in five subdivisions in the riding were assigned a polling station at St. Martin Catholic School on 51st Avenue west of 111th Street, in Edmonton-Riverview.
Elections Alberta spokesman Drew Westwater said this is the only polling station in the province that falls outside its home riding.
Section 52 of Alberta’s Election Act says polling stations must be “located in the electoral division” in a “convenient” location. The same section allows the Chief Electoral Officer to approve polling stations in adjacent ridings.
“We have authorization in the Election Act to set the polling stations outside the electoral division,” he said.
Voters in Edmonton-Strathcona’s affected subdivisions are concerned the far-flung polling station will contribute to low voter turnout.
“It’s a high student concentration, it’s not accessible by LRT,” said affected resident Victoria Jones. “Across the street from me is Knox-Met seniors. How the heck are they going to get four kilometres south?”
Jones has gone to great lengths to vote in previous elections, voting by special ballot in past federal and provincial elections.
“This is my first vote where I get to vote in person,” Jones said. “It’s not going to be as enjoyable an experience.”
Representatives from the Conservatives, Liberal and NDP campaigns in Edmonton-Strathcona called the distant polling station “unfortunate.”
For some voters, this an issue of accessibility, but also democracy.
“I feel disenfranchised,” said Nina Jackson, a resident of Garneau. Elections Alberta suggested she mail in a special ballot when she called to complain about the location of the St. Martin polling station.
“I’m not comfortable doing that,” said Jackson, who has a sign for Edmonton-Strathcona NDP candidate Rachel Notley on her lawn. “Putting it in the box, knowing it got there, means a lot.”
The advanced poll for the five affected subdivisions is at the McKernan Community Centre on 78th Avenue, also outside the Edmonton-Strathcona boundary. Voters unable to make the trip to St. Martin Catholic School on May 5 should vote at that advanced poll, Westwater said.
But Jackson said she should be able to vote nearby on polling day.
“That’s my option, that’s my right,” she said. “If they’re campaigning until the end, I want to be in on it.”
Eligible voters can cast their ballots at advanced polls between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. from April 29 to May 2. For more information on advanced polls go to electionsalberta.ab.ca.