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Big changes coming for next municipal election

Changes largely pertain to filings and contributions
MVT Sundre Town Office
Sundre council has approved changes to its election bylaw to reflect changes to the Local Authorities Election Act. File photo/MVP Staff

SUNDRE - With changes to the Local Authorities Election Act, the municipality had to update its election bylaw and will be ready for municipal elections in 2021.

“There was quite a lot of changes (in the act). I only included the ones in the bylaw that we need to have,” said Luana Smith, the town's legislative executive assistant.

Those changes pertain largely to contributions and filing, said Smith.  

“Nomination is the big one,” she told council during the last council meeting.

Rather than nominations being restricted to a period of two hours, four weeks prior to election day, papers will now be accepted by a jurisdiction at the beginning of the campaign period, Jan. 1 in the year of an election, to six weeks prior to election day, reads background information in council’s agenda package.  

In the event of a byelection, Smith said nominations could be submitted the day immediately following council’s resolution to set the date for voters to go to the ballot box.

“Once your nomination papers are filed, you are considered a candidate, and then you can start getting contributions, but you can’t until you have filed papers,” she said.

There are also some big changes at voting stations related to campaigning, and she said the returning officer now has authority to have people and signage removed.

“Municipalities now must post the candidates’ names after nominations are closed — most municipalities do it anyway, but now it’s a must.”

Additionally, the vouching process has been simplified, making it easier for people to vouch for one another provided they have adequate identification, she said.

Furthermore, while people previously had to be a resident of Alberta for six months to be eligible to vote, the requirement now is to simply be a resident, she said.

A new position of substitute returning officer has been introduced and must be appointed, she said.

Also, she added the returning officer may now refuse a nomination paper that was not filled out properly.

“Before we accepted it, and it was up to the elector to scrutinize it.”

Following the conclusion of Smith’s presentation, council proceeded to carry the required readings to approve the bylaw.