Elections Calgary promises no ballot shortages for upcoming plebiscite

A report looking into the 2017 municipal election found many voting stations ran out of ballots

This is the first Calgary vote where electronic tabulators are being used. BRODIE THOMAS / LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Calgarians who may remember long lineups and ballot shortages during the 2017 municipal election have nothing to worry about at Tuesday’s Olympic plebiscite, according to the City’s chief returning officer.

Laura Kennedy said they’ve learned some lessons from problems in 2017 and have adjusted their practices accordingly.

“We have more ballots than we need,” she said.

In 2017, many voters complained about waiting in line to elect a new city council, only to be told that there were no ballots available.

An audit of that election which went to a council committee in July of this year found that insufficient ballot supply was one of the key problems that led to delays at polling booths.

In that election, 60 per cent of polling stations asked for additional ballots from the election office as the day went on.

“There was no triage system in place to identify the most urgent requests for ballot resupply, coordination of deliveries by Elections Office and area supervisors, or any collated electronic record of additional ballots supplied to voting stations,” read one section of the report.

For the plebiscite, mid-day restocking of ballots will not need to happen, according to Kennedy.

“On vote day, based on the number of voters we expect in each of the voting subdivisions, there will be 100 per cent of the ballots in the voting stations by 11 a.m.,” she said.

The city is also turning to the province for data about the number of eligible voters in the city.

In 2017, the city prepared for 666,000 eligible voters, but Elections Alberta indicates there are 765,000 eligible voters in Calgary.

Kennedy said the city has trained extra staff to be on call, ready for vote day.

“We’ve also redesigned the structure of the voting station to make sure that there isn’t a lot of line ups within the voting station,” she said. “The staff is encouraged to get people into the voting station so they can get in and through the voting process quickly.”

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