The Election Commissioner may, in response to a complaint or allegation made by a person or organization or request made by the Chief Electoral Officer, conduct an investigation into any matter that might constitute an offence under the Election Act, the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, or Part 5.1 (Campaign Finance and Disclosure) or Part 8 (Third Party Advertising) of the Local Authorities Election Act. An investigation may also be conducted on the Election Commissioner’s own initiative.
For the purpose of conducting an investigation, the Election Commissioner has all the powers of a commissioner under the Public Inquiries Act as though the investigation were an inquiry under that Act.
The Election Commissioner may refuse to conduct an investigation or cease an investigation if it is believed that the matter is frivolous or vexatious or if there are insufficient grounds to warrant an investigation or the continuation of an investigation.
The Election Commissioner cannot make an adverse finding against a person or organization unless that person or organization has had reasonable notice of the substance of the allegations and a reasonable opportunity to present his or her or its views.
When there is an investigation, it is conducted by an investigator designated by the Election Commissioner. At the conclusion of the investigation, the investigator prepares a report and makes a recommendation to the Election Commissioner concerning further proceedings.
On receipt of an investigative report and recommendations, the matter may be referred to legal counsel for an independent recommendation.
With the benefit of the investigative report and legal advice, the Election Commissioner may do one of the following:
- decide that no further action is required
- enter into a compliance agreement
- issue a letter of reprimand
- levy an administrative penalty
- recommend a prosecution be instituted*
*Prosecutions must be commenced within 3 years of the commission of the alleged offence. Prosecutions for election offences cannot be instituted by Alberta Justice without the consent of the Election Commissioner.