With just days to go before Progressive Conservatives cast their ballots for a new leader, the three candidates are crossing their fingers that problems with memberships will be resolved and trouble with a new electronic voting system will be avoided. Each of the leadership contenders acknowledge that their campaigns have seen numerous submitted memberships rejected by the party because they don’t match up exactly with the Elections Alberta voter’s list. Calgary-Hays MLA Ric McIver said his campaign has been busy dealing with membership rejections, working hard to “clean them up, one file at a time.” “It’s an issue for us. Absolutely. Large numbers, yes,” McIver said.
Former federal cabinet minister Jim Prentice said a great deal of work is being done to cross-reference memberships with the voter’s list. There are “concerns on behalf of all the campaigns whether the Elections Alberta list is up to date or not,” he said. “And so I know there is a lot of time and effort being invested by everyone, and hopefully the party will find solutions.”
Another candidate, Edmonton-Castle Downs MLA Thomas Lukaszuk, called the system a complex “hybrid.” “This is not a general election but we are using the list for a general election. The problem often is that individuals often identify themselves somewhat differently than what the chief electoral officer’s list would say,” he said. “The problem it creates is that Albertans become disenfranchised from voting if their memberships are not processed.”
Unlike the 2006 and 2011 PC leadership contests, which saw party members across the province manually mark paper ballots, the 2014 campaign will see Tory members vote either by telephone or on the Internet.