Tuesday, 03 July 2012 08:10

Survey inquires about local election act changes

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Now is the public’s opportunity to have its say on potential changes to how municipal elections are run including how often they occur and when. The provincial government is reviewing the Local Authorities Election Act and Albertans have until the end of July to fill out a survey which will help shape any future changes.

“Various suggested changes have come forward to us through the municipalities specifically as well as the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association and Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties,” says Cam Traynor, spokesperson for Municipal Affairs.
Based upon some of that input received, a survey is now available on the Municipal Affairs website.
It includes 36 questions surrounding the areas of nominations, eligibility to vote, residency requirements, campaign financing and ballot procedures.
The review will also look into when municipal elections are held with the possibility of moving them from the fall to the spring. It will also look at moving to four-year terms for municipal councillors as opposed to the current three. Increasing to four-year terms is what many municipal governments have done across the country.
Traynor adds both municipal associations have made a clear call to government to increase governing terms to four years.
Moving municipal elections to the spring would also dovetail nicely with the provincial elections held every four years. If the elections were staggered, voters could be going to the polls every two years as opposed to some times when elections for all three levels of government have been held within six months of each other.
“Given that voting is one of the most fundamental democratic rights, all Albertans deserve a say in how their local elections are governed,” said Doug Griffiths, Minister of Municipal Affairs in a news release.
“There are many issues up for discussion and there are a lot of complexities involved. We want to hear from Albertans and from municipalities on these issues, so any changes can be made this fall in time for the 2013 local elections.”
Amendments to the act will be made based on survey feedback as well as what has already been heard from the public, especially where there is clear consensus, says Traynor. This is the public’s opportunity to have its say.
The Local Authorities Election Act provides a framework for processes and procedures for municipal and school board elections.
The survey is available at www.municipalaffairs.alberta.ca until July 31. Individuals may provide input through the online survey, and municipalities and municipal organizations have the option of using either the online survey or completing a written submission.

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor

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