September 23rd, 2013 will be an interesting day between 10:00 a.m. and 12 noon as candidates for municipal governments file their nomination papers; City of Wetaskiwin, County of Wetaskiwin, Wetaskiwin Regional Public School Division and St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Separate School Division. All will be using very similar rules that have been established and required by the Government of Alberta Municipal Affairs. There will also be some important differences that are allowed by the Government as is the case with the County of Wetaskiwin. Rod Hawken, Returning Officer for the County of Wetaskiwin elections points out major differences to watch for in the County.
All municipal governments will be electing their representatives for 4 year terms. “This is the first election where candidates are running for a 4 year term. In looking at the pros and cons, the major down side is the extra year commitment that a candidate must make. The major pro is that it often takes 2-3 years for a Council to come together and fully understand the complexities of strategic planning and approving multi-year plans. This longer commitment will work well in creating long term capital and operating plans within Council.”
Voter identification is required for local authority elections where a list of electors is not prepared. The Election Act requires voters to present one piece of picture identification or identification authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer. The County has established and approved a variety of identification items that will satisfy the need to establish the elector’s name and current address. Hawken explains. “This is another new requirement under the Local Authorities Election Act. Every person who is voting must produce identification. The most common will be a driver's licence; however there are 19 other options listed on our website should an elector not have a licence.” Without an acceptable form of photo ID, electors must provide 2 pieces of the identification from the list found on the County website.” http://www.county.wetaskiwin.ab.ca/
In the past, County electors had the option to vote at any one of the polling stations identified for the electoral division in which they reside. At the February 19th, 2013 Council General Meeting Council approved voting subdivisions. Residents will only be allowed to vote at one polling station in their respective division dependent on where they live.
The County has 7 electoral divisions. This year, each electoral division has been divided into either 2 or 3 electoral subdivisions. Electors this year are required to vote only in the electoral subdivision in which they reside and will not be allowed to vote at any other polling station (with the exception of advance poll days). For long term residents, this is definitely a change in the past practice.
Division 1 – Malmo Subdivision, Angus Ridge Subdivision and Wetaskiwin Subdivision
Division 2 – Central Subdivision, Vang Subdivision and Wetaskiwin Subdivision
Division 3 – Lone Ridge Subdivision and Wetaskiwin Subdivision
Division 4 – Porta Bello Subdivision and Millet Subdivision
Division 5 – Mulhurst Subdivision, Falun Subdivision and Lakedell Subdivision
Division 6 – Winfield Subdivision, Yeoford Subdivision and Battle Lake Subdivision
Division 7 – Alder Flats Subdivision and Buck Lake Subdivision
Helping Hawken with the election are 4 Deputy Returning Officers; Carmen Reimer, Sarah Harper, Tess Jorgensen and Frank Coutney. Hawken has also established positions at every polling station. “We will also have 2 Deputy Returning Officers appointed. Should there be any issues that the presiding Deputy Returning Officer at a polling station requires assistance with, we have appointed the Community Peace Officers as election Constables. Without this appointment, our CPO's would not be able to help out at polling stations and the RCMP would have to be called in.”
Once again, the County is partnering with WRPS to provide the option to vote for school trustees at the polling station. “We will be contracting our services to WRPS at all the polling stations. When electors attend a polling station, if there is a school ballot, they have the option to vote for school trustees at that location.”
Nomination packages are available at the County Administration Office up to Nomination Day, September 23, 2013. Campaigning will continue until Election Day, October 21st, 2013. For information regarding the upcoming election, please contact Rod Hawken, Returning Officer at 780-361-6225.