+ RMA Rural Municipalities
of Alberta

Resolution 23-16F

List of Municipal Electors

Date:
November 16, 2016
Expiry Date:
December 1, 2019
Active Status:
Active
Sponsors:
Rocky View County
District:
2 - Central
Year:
2016
Convention:
Fall
Category:
Municipal Governance and Finances
Status:
Accepted in Principle
Vote Results:
Carried
Preamble:

WHEREAS section 49 (permanent electors register), section 50 (list of electors), section 51 (enumerators’ appointment and identification), section 52 (access for enumerators and campaigners) and section 53 (proof of elector eligibility) of the Local Authorities Election Act, RSA 2000, c.L-21 specifies the option for a municipality to create a list of electors for a person to prove their eligibility to vote; and

WHEREAS a list of electors is accepted as a procedural safeguard and administrative control for elections in democracies all over the world; and

WHEREAS federal, provincial and most municipal jurisdictions nationally use a list of electors for proof of elector eligibility during an election; and

WHEREAS to date, no municipality in Alberta has created a list of electors as an option to be used as proof of elector eligibility during a municipal election; and

WHEREAS Alberta is the only province in Canada whose municipalities are required to conduct an enumeration if a list of electors is used; and

WHEREAS Alberta is the only province in Canada whose municipalities are unable to access the provincial list of electors for use in an election unless an enumeration is conducted and a permanent electors register is created; and

WHEREAS Alberta and Saskatchewan are the only provinces in Canada where the use of a list of electors is dependent on a Council bylaw and not directly through legislation; and

WHEREAS there is lack of legislative guidance and best practices available for a municipality to create a list of electors without significant privacy risk, reputational risk and financial cost to the municipality;

Operative Clause:

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request the Government of Alberta to amend the Local Authorities Election Act to provide municipalities a practical and economical option to use a list of electors for proof of elector eligibility.

Member Background:

To date, no municipality in Alberta has used a list of electors (voter lists) for proof of elector eligibility during municipal elections despite federal, provincial and municipal jurisdictions in other provinces who use a voter list for their elections.

There has been a growing interest for the use of a voter lists in conducting municipal elections in Alberta based on the distrust of the current electoral system and the desire for increased accountability by the voter. The use of a list of electors is accepted as a procedural safeguard and administrative control for elections in democracies all over the world, yet it is not a viable option for Alberta municipalities to pursue.

The current municipal electoral system also causes confusion among residents who question why voter list information is not aligned with the election information of other levels of government. There is also frustration that the current process to prove elector eligibility is dependent on each voter signing a Voter Register (Form 8’s) and the inability for the forms to be reviewed by the public except by judicial order.

Although the Local Authorities Election Act provides the option for municipalities to create a list of electors, there are administrative and legislative obstacles as to why it has not been used by municipalities. These obstacles include:

  • The mandatory requirement for municipalities to conduct a door-to-door enumeration if a list of electors is created.
  •  The inability to access the provincial list of electors for use in a municipal election without the municipality conducting an enumeration and creating a Permanent Electors Register.
  •  The lack of legislative guidance and best practices available for a municipality to create a list of electors without significant privacy and reputational risk and financial cost to a municipality.

Electoral confidence in the process is important to voters, especially those living in rural municipalities; where every vote counts when the margin of votes is small compared to urban municipalities. Therefore, we ask the Province of Alberta amend the Local Authorities Election Act to provide municipalities a practical and economical option to use a list of electors for proof of elector eligibility.

Province and Link to Relevant Legislation Legislated – Mandatory Use of Voter’s List

 

Municipal Enumeration Vouching Ability to use Provincial / Federal List

 without conducting an enumeration

BC

Local Government Act

Yes – s.75(2) Optional – s.71(6) No Yes – s.76(1)
Alberta

Local Authorities Election Act

No

Created through bylaw

– s.49(1), 50(1)

Required if voter’s list is created – s.49(1)(b), 50(1)(b), 51 Yes – only if a List of Electors exists -s.53(2) No – can only enter into an agreement with Elections Alberta only if a Permanent Electors Register is created, which also required enumeration be conducted by a municipality s.49(2)
Saskatchewan

Local Government Election

No

Created through bylaw

-s.54(1), 55(1), 107(1)

Optional – s.54(1) No Yes – s.55(1)
Manitoba

The Municipal Councils and School Boards Election Act

Yes – s. 23(1) Optional – s.28(1), 32(1) No Yes – s. 28(1)
Ontario

Municipal Elections Act

Yes – s. 19(1) Not an option. Enumeration is conducted by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation to create a list that is handed over to the municipality. No Yes – list is provided by the Municipal Property Assessment Cooperation s.19(1)
Quebec

An Act Respecting Elections and Referendums in Municipalities

Yes – s. 100 Not an option No Yes – s. 100
New Brunswick

Municipal Elections

Yes – s. 11(1) Not an option Yes – s.36(3)(b) Yes – s. 43(1.1)
Nova Scotia

Municipal Election Act

Yes – s. 21 Optional – s. 30(1) No Yes – s.30B (4)(5)(6), 40(7)
Prince Edward Island

Municipalities Act

Charlottetown and Summerside Difference Policy

Yes – s. 23 Not an option No N/A
Newfoundland

Municipal Elections Act

Yes – s. 31(1)(a)(b) Not an option No Yes – s.31(2)
RMA Background:

RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.

Government Response:

Municipal Affairs: The Local Authorities Election Act (LAEA) currently enables municipalities, by bylaw, to prepare a list of electors and prescribe procedures and forms governing the enumeration of electors.

In addition, the LAEA allows municipalities, by bylaw, to enter into an agreement with the Chief Electoral Officer under the Election Act to receive information that will assist the municipalities in compiling or revising the permanent electors register, as well as to provide updated information to the Chief Electoral Officer that will assist them in preparing or revising the register of electors under the Election Act.

The department acknowledges the current LAEA requirement to complete an enumeration of the electors in connection with the preparation of a list of electors. This item has been noted for consideration in the next comprehensive review of the LAEA.

Development:

As outlined in the Government’s response, municipalities have the ability to prepare a list of electors and may work with the Chief Electoral Office to prepare that list. However, due to requirements for enumerating electors, the extent to which this is considered a ‘practical’ and ‘economical’ option is dependent on each individual municipality and their local capacity. Alberta is the only province in Canada where enumeration is required for the development of a list of electors, and one of only two where the use of lists of electors is not legislated.

Therefore, this resolution has been assigned a status of Accepted in Principle, and RMA will advocate for the need for the Government of Alberta to support greater use of elector lists during the next review of the Local Authorities Election Act.

Provincial Ministries:
Municipal Affairs
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