Planning on voting for municipal candidates and making your voice heard on senate and referendum questions in the Oct. 18 election?
Voters who live in the Special Areas municipalities in east central Alberta, along with First Nations, summer villages and improvement districts, better apply quickly for a special ballot, though, or their voices won’t be heard on some of these issues.
Readers unfamiliar with the Special Areas should know they are municipalities in east central Alberta that are more sparsely populated than other rural municipalities.
Municipal ballots across Alberta will include local election candidates but also a senate election and two referendum questions for voters to fill in.
Most voters will simply see the senate options and referendum questions on their ballot, but not so with residents of the Special Areas.
According to an advertisement placed in the ECA Review, pg. 3 this week by Municipal Affairs titled “Notice of election and requirements for voter identification Special Areas,” the senate election and referendum questions will take place “...by special ballot only.”
The notice went on to state special ballots have to be submitted to the returning officer by Oct. 8 at 4 p.m.
As a causal observer would assume, this means that residents of the Special Areas, if they don’t submit a special ballot application by Oct. 8, cannot vote in either the senate election or the referendum questions.
The ECA Review contacted Municipal Affairs regarding the issue, as Municipal Affairs is named as the originator of the advertisement.
Carrie Sancartier, assistant communications director, Municipal Affairs, responded Oct. 5 and confirmed the notice was correct.
“All Albertans that are eligible electors have the opportunity to participate in the Senate nominee election and referendum votes occurring in October 2021,” stated an email from Municipal Affairs.
“Voters living in the Special Areas are able to vote through special (mail-in) ballot administered by Municipal Affairs.”
Residents were also directed to the provincial government website which stated the Special Areas senate election and referendum rules were in place by Ministerial Order No. MSD:066/21 and MSD:085/21.
These same rules also apply, stated the website, to First Nations, summer villages and improvement districts.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review