The wheels of democracy have already started turning towards the Oct. 18 municipal election.
Returning officer Frieda McDougall said changes to Alberta’s Local Authorities Election Act mean nominations can be accepted immediately.
Since candidates for the municipal election of 2021 can now throw their hats into the election ring anytime from Jan. 1 until Sept. 20, the City of Red Deer is already accepting official bids for the positions of mayor, city councillor and school board trustee (public and Catholic).
No official nominations were turned in, so far, but McDougall said she has heard there were several expressions of interest.
Prospective candidates are asked to read eligibility requirements (candidates must be 18 0r older, having lived in Alberta for at least six months and so on) before filling out nomination forms available on the elections.reddeer.ca website.
Red Deer city council was previously told that preparing for next fall’s municipal election will require additional pandemic measures. “We are all hoping that the situation will substantially change by October,” said McDougall on a Facebook Live announcement on Monday.
But public safety will continue to be the key priority during election planning, she added.
McDougall, who is also legislative services manager for the city, has told city council that additional election costs will be incurred since safeguards will entail having face masks available for election workers and voters, and having disposable writing implements for marking voter ballots.
Election planning will also mean thinking through the logistics of observing physical distancing requirements.
Public election forums have usually been sponsored by groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and Red Deer College. Depending on the state of the pandemic, any 2021 election forums might have to be held online or within guidelines set out by Alberta Health Services, said McDougall.
But the public will get a chance to ask questions, in any event.
McDougall has stated there will be six advanced voting dates to try to eliminate crowding on election day. Mail-in ballots will also be encouraged, but at-home voters will have to prove their eligibility.
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