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Can Alberta Voters Trust the Results of the Forthcoming Election?

04/28/2015 05:26 EDT | Updated 06/28/2015 05:59 EDT

Can voters be sure that whoever wins the 2015 Alberta election does so fairly? After all, this election is technically illegal because Alberta has fixed election dates. This election should be in 2016, as fixed by the 2011 Election Amendment Act passed by the Conservative government.

The last Alberta election held in 2012 had concerns and complaints about election wrongdoings. Chief Electoral Officer Lorne Gibson investigated and found 28 instances of illegal activity. The details were never released because of amendments passed in 2008 by the Tories.

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However, stories emerged of voters getting fraudulent phone calls to dissuade them from voting. Other robocalls were simply irritating because of the sheer number of times the same call went to one household. The Calgary Herald reported that "the majority of the complaints have come from irritated Albertans, but some of the complaints are from parties alleging that fraudulent calls were made in their name." Robocalls aren't prohibited in Alberta.

Rules were bent, if not broken, when it came to political donations. The much publicized $430,000 donation by Katz to the Alberta Conservatives highlighted what many feared was being done quietly during the election. There were cases of town mayors and schools funding the Conservatives. A disproportionate number of electoral returning officers had ties to the Conservative party.

Even in 2008, complaints were raised about the election and how polling stations had conducted themselves. According to Alberta Views, there had been chaos at the polls.

"Over a quarter of a million people who showed up to vote were not on the voters list, and no one knows how many left without voting, because of long lineups. An unknown number of VICs [voter identification cards] contained incorrect information, and many voters went to the wrong polling station. In some situations, it is likely that would-be voters simply went home. The Liberal Party compiled a dossier of problems observed by their scrutineers in different polling stations. These included lineups, inconsistency in applying the rules regarding proof of identity, campaign signs outside polling stations, the location of polling stations being changed at the last minute, the inaccurate voters list, and many more. The dossier was sent to the Auditor General in June along with a request to look into the operations of Elections Alberta." Alberta Views, 2012

Alberta has electronic voting. Electronic voting is ripe for abuse. There are countless articles on how electronic voting can be rigged and how difficult it is to catch. One only has to look at the last U.S. federal election and its widespread complaints about voting machines turning Obama votes into Romney votes and vice versa. In Alberta, the Conservative leadership race had glitches in its electronic voting system, raising concerns about who really won.

With such a track record, how can Albertans be sure whoever wins the 2015 Alberta election did so fairly?

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