Rocky Mountain House and Clearwater County election candidates drop legal bid for review of voting problems

Request for judicial review claimed that some people voted in both town and county elections

Two 2017 municipal election candidates in Rocky Mountain House and Clearwater County have ended their fight for a judicial review of results.

Rocky Mountain House candidate Sheila Mizera and county candidate Diana Spencer requested judicial reviews after the October municipal elections. Spencer lost by one vote to Timothy Hove, who had 148 votes, in the county’s Division Six.

Former three-term town councillor Mizera lost the mayor’s race by 50 votes to Tammy Burke, who had 747 votes.

Their claim says that electors voted in municipalities outside their place of residence and the same electors voted in both town and county elections.

The issue ended up in the courts and it was to go to Court of Queen’s Bench in November.

However, last week Town of Rocky Mountain House announced that both applicants had filed discontinuances of their court action.

“Council and staff are satisfied with this conclusion and are ready to look forward to the formal conclusion of these proceedings,” says the town in a news release.

Mizera said the legal action was not about contesting the vote count, it was about fixing irregularities in the last election. A judicial review would not have adequately addressed that.

“Really the only avenue to create awareness or change around the election process is through contesting the election and neither Diana or I wanted to contest the election. We only wanted the process to be flawless.”

Mizera said she knows that there were irregularities. “People have told me they voted more than once, voted in both town and county.

“So, the process is broken.”

Mizera said she would like municipalities to be more accountable to voters and to ensure that all of the rules are followed.

Better methods of voter identification, the creation of voter lists and providing better education about the purpose of the voter declaration would help.

The Alberta government is conducting a review of the Local Authorities Election Act and an online survey has been created.

However, Mizera doubts that the government’s review will be result in the kinds of changes she believes necessary to improve voter identification.

Town of Rocky Mountain says it spent more than $30,000 in legal costs with more bills still to come in. Council considered seeking cost recovery but its lawyer said the amount awarded would likely be minimal and not worth the further expense.

“It is our firm believe we already lost valuable time and money on the issue,” the town says. “It is more important that we focus our efforts on advancing Rocky Mountain House and making our community stronger.”

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