Elections Calgary is ready to open the polls for this fall’s municipal election, but with some changes in tow.
New ward boundaries will be in effect for Election Day on Oct. 18.
Third-party advertisers are now part of the election landscape, along with a $30,000 donation limit for them.
It will be another pandemic election for Calgarians, with the attendant strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Mail-in ballots have already been sent to the more than 7,352 eligible voters who requested them.
With each ballot taking up a full legal size sheet of paper, Calgarians will be deciding on:
- mayor and council
- school board trustee
- whether or not to add fluoride to city water
- up to three candidates for senate
- whether or not to adopt Daylight Saving Time year round, and
- whether or not to remove equalization from the Constitution
Advance polls open from Oct. 4-10 at 37 polling stations, 11 more than the last election. Four campuses will offer advance polling: University of Calgary, Mount Royal University, Bow Valley College and SAIT.
Elections Calgary is advising Calgarians to vote early, to help minimize a rush on voting day.
There will be 22 more polling stations open on Oct. 18, bringing the total to 188, and voting will open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Voting stations will be set up at four hospitals around the city.
It’s part of an attempt to prevent long lineups like those seen in 2017, with each station being stocked with enough ballots for its voting subdivision.
“Our goal is really to provide that safe environment for voters, for our election workers and for the scrutineers,” returning officer Kate Martin said.
“Our aim really is to offer as many opportunities as we can and to spread out the voters across the city.
“Designated voting stations will support more predictable voter turnout, which better manages our capacity within the voting stations.”
Calgarians can find their nearest polling station on the Elections Calgary website.
Voting tabulator machines will be used for the 2021 general election, after their successful use in the Olympic plebiscite.
“Each tabulator and associated software is thoroughly tested and secured before during and after its use in this election,” deputy city clerk Andrew Brouwer said.
Brouwer added that the tabulators are configured to prevent external hacks.
“When the results are transmitted, it’s just through a one-way, secure, private network that wouldn’t provide the opportunity for that type of hacking. It’s not networked in the way that a regular computer would be.”
All election workers are required to be masked and voters are asked to wear a mask under the city’s Pandemic Face Covering Bylaw.
Hand sanitizer will be available, and surfaces will be frequently wiped down.
Where possible, separate entrances and exits will be used, desks will be distanced and reduced room capacities will be observed.
Voters are asked to bring their own pens, but golf pencils will be available if voters don’t bring one.
Calgarians are asked to fill out their voter statement before they arrive, which will be mailed out to all households ahead of election day.
Election Calgary will also be offering curbside voting.
“Voters with any mobility challenges or who are unable or refuse to wear a mask will be offered a curbside, outside vote,” Martin said. “It’s really important to note that this will not be a routine service, so there may be additional wait times for anyone who will be requesting an outside vote.”
While not all election workers will be mandated to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the locations of some polling stations have existing policies that require vaccination.
And voters are asked to not visit any of the voting stations if they have COVID-19 symptoms.
Elections officials will work closely with corporate security and Calgary Police Service on election day, and supervisors at polling stations are trained with de-escalation techniques.
On Tuesday, CPS deputy chief Chad Tawfik told the Calgary Police Commission that CPS officers attended a dozen calls on election day for the federal election, with one call resulting in an alleged assault and criminal charges.
There are 27 candidates running for mayor and 100 candidates hope to fill the 14 ward seats.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.