A group of Albertan voters concerned over the use of electronic tabulators in the upcoming provincial vote won’t pursue legal action after Elections Alberta guaranteed the paper ballots would be preserved in case a recount is required.
In March, Alberta litigator Leighton Grey of Grey Wowk Spencer LLP sent a letter to Elections Alberta saying he represents many residents who don’t want tabulators used and want to ensure that Elections Alberta intends to keep all ballots for three months following election day.
Elections Alberta has said it will use tabulators to count early ballots to ensure votes coming in from across the province are counted in a timely manner. Following Grey’s letter, the agency confirmed it plans to keep all paper ballots for three months from the date of the election or the date of a recount, as stipulated under the Election Act.
The agency also said it offers a Vote Anywhere Service, meaning electors anywhere in the province can show up at any voting place and receive a ballot for their electoral division.
“With 87 electoral divisions, tabulators are an essential component to how we manage all those different ballots as the alternative would require sorting and transporting hundreds of thousands of ballots prior to the count,” a spokesperson told True North.
On Tuesday, the first day advance polls opened, Grey confirmed that the concerned voters had decided not to pursue legal action.
Both UCP leader Danielle Smith and Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley cast their ballots on Tuesday.
In April, Smith told True North she’s confident in the system because the ballots will be preserved, not destroyed by the tabulators, in case a recount is requested.
“That’s, I think, something that people expect in democracy – that you should be able to verify a vote if results end up very close,” she said.
Elections Alberta says tabulators are an essential part of how it delivers the vote, and without them, it would need to sort hundreds of thousands ballots into electoral divisions before counting.
“In 2019, all of the vote anywhere ballots were counted by a tabulator, but it was done at a centralized location and delayed the full unofficial results by several days,” it said.
Advance polls are open till Saturday. Election Day is Monday.