Calgarians will be able to vote 2 hours earlier in upcoming elections

Nenshi says changes needed to make municipal elections fairer

Voters taking part in this fall's plebiscite on whether Calgary bids for the Olympics may find the voting hours more to their liking.

City council decided Monday to allow polls to stay open longer for municipal votes. Polls had previously opened at 10 a.m., but city clerk Laura Kennedy said voting across most of Alberta starts earlier. The decision to open polls at 8 a.m. could boost turnout and ease end-of-day lineups, she said.

"These additional hours will provide individuals on their way to work or who have a late start in the morning an opportunity to vote," she told CBC News.

Traffic to the City of Calgary's website on election days peaks at between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. she said when the most visitors are looking for information about when and where to vote. "So we aligned with the 8 a.m. when we noticed the peak."

Council also voted to allow the city to explore using vote tabulators in elections, which allow for electronic counting of paper ballots.

Kennedy said tabulators could speed up the time it takes to count votes and also reduce the chance of ballots being spoiled due to human error.

"If there is an error with the vote on the ballot … voters are given the opportunity to correct it, which is an important part so we don't inadvertently not count someone's vote when they've taken the time," she said.

Kennedy said there is a possibility tabulators may be in place for the upcoming Olympic plebiscite.

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