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FAQ

What does the Chief Electoral Officer do?

The Chief Electoral Officer is a non-partisan Officer of the Legislative Assembly, responsible for the administration of the Election Act, the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act and the Senatorial Selection Act. The Chief Electoral Officer ensures that elections are conducted fairly and that political entities and voters abide by the rules set out in legislation.

Under the authority of the Election Act, the Chief Electoral Officer and the staff at Elections Alberta provide guidance and supervision for the conduct of all provincial enumerations, general elections, by-elections and plebiscites.

Under the jurisdiction of the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, the Chief Electoral Officer and the staff at Elections Alberta are responsible for the collection, examination and public disclosure of registration and financial documents of provincial political parties, constituency associations, candidates, third party advertisers and leadership contestants.

Why do we have provincial elections?

Provincial general elections are held so voters in the province can decide who will represent them in the Legislative Assembly. Their representative (Member of the Legislative Assembly) will be involved in decision-making that will affect present and future residents of our province. One Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) is elected in each electoral division to sit in the Legislative Assembly and represent the people in the area.

  • Most MLAs represent political parties, and the party with the most MLAs elected forms the government.
  • The group of MLAs makes policy decisions by passing laws that will affect present and future residents of the province.

What is an MLA?

An MLA can be defined as:

  • One Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) is elected in each electoral division to sit in the Legislative Assembly and represent the people in the area.
  • Most MLAs represent political parties, and the party with the most MLAs elected forms the government.

The group of MLAs makes policy decisions by passing laws that will affect present and future residents of the province.

Who is my MLA?

The MLA of your electoral division can be found here.

What is a political party?

A political party is an organized group of people with common values and goals that tries to get its candidates elected to office. Political parties must register with the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer before they are registered parties within Alberta. There are currently 9 registered political parties in Alberta.

How do I form a political party in Alberta?

If you wish to register a political party, you must first contact the Chief Electoral Officer, in writing, and request that the party name you have selected is held while you meet the requirements identified in the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act. The Chief Electoral Officer will contact you, in writing, to confirm approval of the name as long as it is appropriate and not easily confused with an existing party or another party name that is being held pending registration. Along with the approval you will receive an information package and specific instructions to assist you in the registration process.

The Chief Electoral Officer address is:

Elections Alberta
Attn: Chief Electoral Officer
Suite 100, 11510 Kingsway NW
Edmonton, AB T5G 2Y5

Part of the registration process consists of the collection of names of electors on a petition supporting your intent to register the new party. You must collect signatures from 7,163 electors, which represents 0.3% of the number of electors eligible to vote at the last general election, conducted on April 23, 2012. This requirement is based on the post-polling day Lists of Electors, released July 2012 in accordance with section 19 of the Election Act, which contained 2,387,485 eligible electors.

You may also register a political party by endorsing candidates in at least half of the electoral divisions in the province at the next provincial general election.

Further information regarding the rights and responsibilities of registered political parties is contained in the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act which is available from the Queen’s Printer Bookstore. The Act will be provided to you by the Chief Electoral Officer if you submit a written request to register a political party.

Do I have to be on the List of Electors in order to vote?

Yes. However, if you are not on the list, you can:

  • add your name online using Voterlink, or
  • during an election period add your name during the revisions period by contacting the returning officer in your electoral division, or
  • add your name on polling day by bringing appropriate identification and completing the Declaration of Elector. Click here to view the listing of Authorized Elector Identification.

My name is on the List of Electors, but I just moved (from within Alberta). Where do I vote?

Electors must vote in the polling subdivision in which they reside. You may:

  • contact the local returning officer to have your name moved to the appropriate poll during the revisions period, or
  • make the changes using Voterlink, or
  • during an election period add your name on polling day by bringing appropriate identification and completing the Declaration of Elector. Click here to view the listing of Authorized Elector Identification.

I just became a Canadian citizen. How do I get on the List of Electors?

You may be added if you are over 18 and have been ordinarily a resident in Alberta for six months prior to polling day. You may contact the returning officer during the election period to have your name added to the list during the revisions period.

You may also use Voterlink to add your name, address and change other personal information. All that is required is an Alberta Motor Vehicle Licence or an Alberta Identification Card issued by a Registry Office.

You may also add your name on polling day by bringing appropriate identification, and by completing the Declaration of Elector. Click here to view the listing of Authorized Elector Identification.

How do I know my information will be kept confidential?

Elections Alberta has a strong commitment to protecting electors’ privacy. Information from the Register of Electors may only be used for electoral purposes and distribution of Lists of Electors is restricted, by law, to election officers, political parties and candidates. Any misuse of this information may result in fines up to $100,000, imprisonment for up to one year, or both. Electronic safeguards will be used to trace any person who misuses such information.

Who is eligible to vote in a provincial general election in Alberta?

In order to be eligible to vote in a provincial general election, a person must reside in the polling subdivision in which the person seeks to vote, and must:

  • be a Canadian citizen,
  • be at least eighteen years of age,
  • be ordinarily resident in Alberta for six months prior to polling day,
  • not be excluded under section 45 of the Election Act, which states:

Persons prohibited from voting under section 178 (4) (e) or 181 (1) are not eligible to vote at an election. These sections detail persons ineligible as a result of corrupt practices.

What type of identification do I need to vote?

An elector whose name is on the List of Electors is not required to produce identification prior to voting.

In accordance with section 95(1)(a) of the Election Act, an elector whose name is not on the List of Electors may vote after producing government issued identification containing the elector’s photograph, current address and name. This includes an Operator’s (Driver’s) Licence or an Alberta Identification Card.

In addition, the Chief Electoral Officer has authorized a listing of appropriate identification, in accordance with section 95(1)(a)(ii) of the Election Act. An elector whose name is not on the List of Electors, and who is unable to produce government issued identification, must produce two pieces of identification from the list prior to voting. Both pieces of identification must establish the elector’s name. One piece must establish the elector’s current address. Click here to view the listing of Authorized Elector Identification.

Do I get time off work to vote?

There are provisions in the Election Act to ensure that there is sufficient time for eligible electors to vote on polling day and section 132 of the Election Act allows for 3 consecutive hours for the purpose of voting. Polls are open from 9 am to 8 pm.

Your regular work schedule may already allow for three consecutive hours during the time that the polls are open (9 am to 8 pm). If your work day starts at noon, or ends by 5 pm, you have the three hours required by legislation and are not entitled to additional time off.

These provisions are contained in section 132, which states:

(1) An employee who is an elector qualified to vote shall, while the polls are open on polling day at an election or plebiscite, be allowed 3 consecutive hours for the purpose of casting the employee’s vote. (2) If the employee’s hours of employment do not allow for the 3 consecutive hours’ absence, the employee’s employer shall allow the employee additional time for voting to provide the 3 consecutive hours, but the additional time for voting shall be granted at the convenience of the employer. (3) No employer may make any deduction from the pay of an employee or impose on or exact from the employee any penalty by reason of the employee’s absence from employment during the 3 consecutive hours referred to in subsection (1) or additional time granted under subsection (2).

How can I vote if I plan to be away on Election Day?

If you plan to be away during Election Day, you have two options:

Option 1: You may vote at an advance poll. Advance polls are held from 9 am to 8 pm on the Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday prior to polling day. Addresses of advance polls are published in local newspapers and can also be obtained from returning officers or Elections Alberta’s website.

Option 2: You may vote using a Special Ballot if you are unable to vote at the advance polls or on polling day because you are:

  • physically incapacitated,
  • away from your electoral division,
  • serving as an inmate,
  • an election officer, candidate, official agent or scrutineer, or
  • living in a remote area, as defined in the Election Act.

You may apply for a Special Ballot:

  • in writing,
  • by telephone,
  • by fax or by email,
  • in person, or
  • online.

Please be certain to consider these options well in advance of polling day – electors who have not made arrangements in time have been very disappointed when, for example, sufficient time is not left to receive and return a Special Ballot. The returning officer will do his or her best to accommodate your particular situation, but the request must be made by the elector in time to meet the administrative requirements of the electoral process.

It is important to note that, while requests for Special Ballots may be sent via facsimile or email, the Special Ballots themselves may not. A Special Ballot sent via facsimile or email would be easily identifiable, and the basic principle of the secret ballot would be lost. For this same reason, you may not obtain a Special Ballot from anyone other than the returning officer in your own electoral division.

Your Special Ballot must be properly completed and received, with identification, by the returning officer prior to the close of polls at 8 pm on polling day to be counted. Any Special Ballots received after the close of polls are counted as rejected ballots, meaning your vote will not be counted.

If I am working or travelling away from home, where do I go to vote?

According to section 43 of the Election Act, an elector must vote in the polling subdivision of the electoral division in which the person is ordinarily resident on polling day.

An elector is considered to have only one place of ordinary residence, and it is defined as “the place where the person lives and sleeps and to which, when the person is absent from it, the person intends to return”. Therefore, if you temporarily live or work away from your place of ordinary residence, you must still vote in the electoral division in which you ordinarily reside.

For example, this would apply to:

A construction worker from Edmonton working in Fort McMurray and living in temporary accommodations (a worksite camp, motel or apartment) who ordinarily resides with his family in Edmonton. The worker would be eligible to vote in Edmonton.

A retired person from Pincher Creek traveling in another country who has been away for several months but intends to return after the extended holiday. The vacationer would be eligible to vote in Pincher Creek.

In all cases, the electors would have to meet the regular eligibility criteria.

If you are in a similar situation, there are two options available to you if you expect to be away from your electoral division on polling day.

The first option is to vote at the Advance Poll in your own electoral division. Advance polls are held from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on the Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday prior to polling day. Addresses of advance poll locations are published in local newspapers and can also be obtained from returning officers or Elections Alberta’s website.

The second option is to vote by Special Ballot. You must request a Special Ballot from the returning officer in your electoral division. The request – which must come from the elector – can be made as soon as the Writ of Election is issued. You may apply for a Special Ballot

  • in writing,
  • by telephone,
  • by fax or by email,
  • in person, or
  • online.

It is important to note that, while requests for Special Ballots may be sent via facsimile or email, the Special Ballots themselves may not. A Special Ballot sent via facsimile or email would be easily identifiable, and the basic principle of the secret ballot would be lost. For this same reason, you may not obtain a Special Ballot from anyone other than the returning officer in your own electoral division.

Your Special Ballot must be properly completed and received, with identification, by the returning officer prior to the close of polls at 8 pm on polling day to be counted. Any Special Ballots received after the close of polls are counted as rejected ballots, meaning your vote will not be counted.

If I am studying away from home, where do I go to vote?

If you have left your ordinary residence in Alberta to study at an educational institution elsewhere in Alberta, you may, while pursuing your studies, consider one of the following as your ordinary residence:

  1. the place you were previously resident before pursuing your studies; or
  2. the place you are resident while pursuing your studies

If you have left your ordinary residence in Alberta to study at an educational institution outside Alberta, you would be considered ordinarily resident in the place where you were previously resident in Alberta. You may request a Special Ballot from the returning officer in writing, by telephone, fax, email, in person or online.

If you have left your ordinary residence in another province or territory to study at an educational institution in Alberta, you would be considered to be ordinarily resident in the place where you are resident in Alberta.

These residency provisions also apply to the spouse, adult interdependent partner and dependants of the students.

What if I am in the hospital on Election Day?

On election day, mobile polls go around to hospitals, to many supportive living facilities, and to seniors’ lodges so the residents are able to register and cast their ballots. You can check with your facility to see if a mobile poll is expected.

How do I vote if I am visually impaired?

Templates, magnifiers and large-format ballot posters are available at all polling stations so that the visually impaired are able to mark their ballots independently. Alternatively, a friend or election officer may offer assistance.

How do I vote if I am not fluent in English?

Election officers are mainly selected from the local area and often speak the language(s) commonly used in that neighbourhood. Alternatively, directions for marking the ballot are available in 13 languages for voters who are most comfortable with a language other than English. You may also bring a friend along to translate for you.

How do I know my vote will be kept secret?

The people present at the polls are limited to those with a role to play in the election process (election officers, scrutineers, voters, etc.), and all people allowed to stay in the polling place are required to take an Oath of Secrecy. All ballots are identical and are returned to the election officer folded so your vote is not visible. The ballot box at each poll is kept sealed until the end of election day when it is opened in a secure area and ballots are counted by the election officers.

How do I know that the voting process is secure?

The List of Electors is developed to restrict voting to those who are entitled, as well as to restrict each voter to only one vote. After voting, the voter’s name is crossed off the list. The names of those who vote at advance polls or using a Special Ballot are crossed off the list in their area so they cannot also vote on election day. Voters who are not on the list must bring identification and complete a Declaration of Elector when they visit the polls before they are permitted to vote. Local election officers and scrutineers may challenge anyone they believe is not entitled to vote, even if they are on the List.

Where do I vote?

You must vote at the polling station established for the polling subdivision in which you are ordinarily resident. A person can only have one place of ordinary residence. An ordinary residence is the place where the person lives and sleeps and to which, when the person is absent from it, the person intends to return.

During an election you can find out where you vote by:

  • watching for information in the local newspapers
  • watching for a Where-to-Vote card that will be mailed to your residence at least one week before election day
  • calling the Voter Information Centre at 780-422-8683 in Edmonton or 1-877-422-8683 (toll-free outside of Edmonton).

What are the voting hours?

Election day polls and advance polls are open from 9 am to 8 pm.

I would like to work during the election. What positions are available, what is the compensation and how do I apply?

Once an election is called, Elections Alberta will recruit support and election-period staff to assist with the election event. Available positions will be posted on the Jobs Page. You can apply for these jobs online, or you can choose to contact the returning officer in your electoral division directly.

What is a Senate nominee election?

There have been four Senate nominee elections: 1989, 1998, 2004 and 2012. The first Senate nominee election held in conjunction with the provincial general election was in 2004.

The Senate nominee election allows Albertans the opportunity to elect Senate nominees.

The Senatorial Selection Act (sec.3(1)) directs that:

“The Government of Alberta shall submit the names of the Senate nominees to the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada as persons who may be summoned to the Senate of Canada for the purpose of filling vacancies relating to Alberta.”

Who is eligible to run as a candidate in the Senate nominee elections?

To be eligible to be nominated as a candidate, a person must meet the qualifications listed in section 23 of the Constitution Act 1867, that is:

  • be at least 30 years old,
  • own at least $4,000 of property in Alberta,
  • be a resident of Alberta, and
  • not be prohibited from being a candidate under the Election Act.

Candidates also have to meet the following qualifications in accordance with the Senatorial Selection Act:

  • be ordinarily resident in Alberta for at least six months immediately preceding polling day,
  • not be sitting members of the House of Commons, Senate of Canada or Alberta Legislative Assembly,
  • not be a candidate in the provincial general election, and
  • not be prohibited from participation by sections 57, 178 or 181 of the Election Act.

Candidates may be nominated by a registered political party for endorsement as the official candidate of the party or declare themselves as an Independent candidate.

Have elected Senate nominees ever become Senators?

Yes.

  • Stan Waters was elected as a Senate nominee and appointed as a Senator on June 11, 1990.
  • Bert Brown was elected as a Senate nominee and appointed as a Senator on July 10, 2007.
  • Betty Unger was appointed as a Senate on January 13, 2012.
  • Most recently, Doug Black was appointed as a Senator on January 25, 2013.

How many electors are in Alberta?

An elector is an individual who has the right to vote. There are approximately 2.4 million electors on the list of electors.

When is the next provincial election?

The next general election shall be held within the 3-month period beginning on March 1 and ending on May 31 in 2019. The Lieutenant Governor has the power to dissolve the Legislature before this date.