(Advocate file photo).

Many ‘firsts’ in 2017 Red Deer municipal election

Highest-ever turnout in advanced polls was among them

The results are in: The 2017 municipal and school boards election cost Red Deer taxpayers just over $576,400.

This and other election-related information was passed on to Red Deer city council this week by returning officer Frieda McDougall.

Council heard about several successful starts: The last municipal election was the first-ever time smart devices were used to display voter identification, and the first time a stand-alone election website was launched. The latter reduced the number of callers asking where they can vote, McDougall said.

It was also the first time that trustee names were placed on the same ballot as municipal candidates — and voter feedback was positive, said McDougall.

While the overall election turnout (26 per cent of the voting populace) was the lowest since at least 1998, McDougall said the 2017 election had the highest-ever advanced voter turnout (2,639 people) over the five days it was held.

In fact, the Red Deer museum location for the advanced poll might have to be switched for a larger space if there’s increased capacity in future elections, she added.

Council heard the City of Red Deer recovered some of the costs from last October’s election from the local Catholic and public schools boards, since trustee were also on the ballot list. In the end, the city’ portion was $374,500.

A study was done comparing voting patterns on ballots. It showed candidates with names placed alphabetically at the top of the list did not gain unfair advantage by receiving more votes than those whose names are at the bottom.

McDougall said Red Deerians voted strategically: “the majority of votes were distributed throughout the ballot.”

One ongoing problem was finding voting stations in Red Deer neighbourhoods without sizable community centres, but some were found in adjacent subdivisions.

Council also heard there were some compliance issues with new bylaw that limited election sign posting to designated locations, but she was unable to provide more information, since this was handled by the city’s bylaws department.

Councillors are expected to release their election-related expenses on April 16.


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