The Local Authorities Election Act (LAEA) is the primary legislation that guides the conduct of a municipal election or by-election. Copies can be obtained through the Alberta Queen’s Printer here.
All information, definitions, procedures and processes outlined here are from the LAEA. Should you require further clarification on any information, you are encouraged to review and consult the LAEA, contact the returning officer for the Special Areas, or seek independent legal opinion.
All forms, including the notice of intent to run, nomination form and candidate’s acceptance, and campaign disclosure statement can be found on the Alberta Municipal Affairs website, including the Nomination Paper and Candidate’s Acceptance (FORM 4) and the Candidate Information (FORM 5).
This section provides a brief overview of the information included on the nomination paper and the nomination day process.
Form of Nomination
Your nomination must be filed using the prescribed form available here (Nomination Paper and Candidate’s Acceptance). Contact your local district office or returning officer to seek advice on filling out the form accurately.
What is included in the Form of Nomination?
Your nomination paper must be signed by at least five (5) voters eligible to vote in the election. The signatures collected must be of people who are resident in the municipality on the date of signing the nomination, and include the voter’s name, address (street address or legal description of residence) and signature.
If you are seeking election in a municipality with a division or ward system, the voters signing your nomination form must be residents in the ward or division that are you running in.
What is included in the Candidates Written Acceptance?
The candidate’s written acceptance (FORM4) includes:
- That the person is eligible to be elected to the office;
- The name, address and telephone number of the person’s official agent (if applicable);
- That the person will accept the office if elected.
The acceptance is an affidavit that must be sworn or affirmed before a Commissioner for Oaths or the returning officer.
Note: Under the Criminal Code (Canada), it is an offence to make a false affidavit and is punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment.
Filing the Nomination Form
Once you have completed the nomination form, the next step is to ensure that you file the form on or before Nomination Day.
How do I file my Nomination Form?
Completed nomination forms can be filed with the returning officer between 10am and 12 noon on Nomination Day, six (6) weeks prior to Election Day. Before the Nomination Day, completed nomination forms will be accepted by the returning officer at the local jurisdiction office by appointment.
Municipalities will advertise a “Notice of Nomination Day” at least once a week for two weeks prior to Nomination Day that will indicate where and when the returning officer will receive the nominations. It is important to check the advertisement or with your municipality for the time and location to file your nomination papers.
Do I have to file my nomination form in person?
Nomination forms must be hand delivered. It is always a good idea to deliver your nomination form to the returning officer in person; however, anyone may file your nomination paper on your behalf. If you are unable to file your nomination paper yourself, ensure that the nomination paper is completed fully prior to Nomination Day. You, as the candidate, are responsible for ensuring that the nomination form is fully completed and meets the requirements for filing under section 27 of the Local Authorities Election Act.
Candidates may withdraw their nomination form within 24 hours from the close of nominations, provided the number of candidates nominated exceeds the number of positions for the office you are seeking. If candidates choose to withdraw, they must provide written notice, in person, to the returning officer.
In the event that the number of nominations filed is less than the number of vacancies in the municipality, the returning officer will be available to receive nominations the next day (and for a period of up to 6 days, if required) from 10am to 12noon.
Nominations Equal Number of Vacancies
If, by noon on Nomination Day, the number of candidates nominated equals the number of vacancies in the municipality, nominations will be closed, and the returning officer will declare the candidates elected by acclamation (no election will be held).
Nominations Exceed Number of Vacancies
If more than the required nominations are received by noon on Nomination Day, nominations will be closed, and the election will be held according to process.
The municipality will post the names of those nominated within 48 hours after the close of nominations.
Late Filing of Nominations
The returning officer CANNOT accept nominations after 12 noon on Nomination Day. Ensure that you check with your municipality on the time and location for filing nomination forms and ensure that you file your nomination paper on time at the location available.
Once you have filed your nomination form and your candidate’s acceptance, there are several things to remember as you campaign to Election Day.
How do I Campaign?
There is no “standard” in campaigning when it comes to municipal elections. A candidate’s campaign style will want to match the uniqueness of the municipality to the candidate’s personality and available resources. The purpose of campaigning is to convince the electors that you are the best candidate for the position in the municipality. Candidates have used various strategies including but not limited to:
- Brochures or posters;
- Social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) or websites; and
- Host a meet and greet event.
Is There Anything I Cannot Do During a Campaign?
There are a variety of offence provisions included in the Local Authorities Election Act; it is encouraged that candidates review and understand all offence provisions in the Act. In addition to the offence provisions, it is essential that candidates seek additional clarification from municipal returning officers relating to campaign activities. Municipalities may have local bylaws that may address campaign activities including but not limited to the use and placement of campaign signage throughout the municipality. If candidates require additional interpretation or clarification, they are encouraged to seek independent legal services if required.
As a candidate, you cannot give, or promise to give, money or any other valuable consideration (such as an office or job) to anyone in return for their vote, or to agreeing not to vote.
In addition, an elector or resident of the municipality cannot accept money or any other valuable consideration in return for voting or not voting during an election.
As a candidate, you cannot use, or threaten to use, violence, injury, damage or intimidation to compel a person to vote or refrain from voting at an election. You cannot obstruct the voting process or obstruct a person from accessing a voting station to vote during an election.
Canvassing on Election Day
Candidates, official agents, or campaign volunteers cannot canvass or solicit votes in or on the property surrounding the building used as a voting station on Election Day. In addition, campaign materials (posters, pins, signage, etc.) cannot be displayed or distributed inside or on the property surrounding the building used as a voting station.
You have filed your nomination papers, you’ve campaigned, and now you’ve reached Election Day! It is important that you understand the process for Election Day and seek clarification on any questions you may have.
How long are voting stations open on Election Day?
Voting stations are open between the hours of 10am and 8pm on Election Day.
Who is eligible to vote?
A person is eligible to vote in a municipal election if the person:
- Is at least 18 years of age;
- Is a Canadian Citizen;
- Has resided in Alberta for the 6 consecutive months preceding election day;
- The person’s primary place of residence is in the appropriate subdivision on Election Day.
Can people observe Election Day?
Candidates, or official agents, or a candidate’s scrutineer, may observe the processes at the voting station(s) on Election Day. The returning officer in your municipality will have details on how to appoint official agents and scrutineers. As well, the returning officer will explain the role and responsibilities of a candidate, official agent or scrutineer observing the election processes.
Maintaining the Secrecy of the Vote
All ballots, forms, ballot boxes, and voting machines (if applicable), are in the custody and control of the returning officer. Forms and statements made by the electors cannot be viewed by any person observing the election due to privacy reasons. All voter compartments are equipped with voting screens and instructions for electors to ensure secrecy.
At the close of the voting station and at the conclusion of the count, the ballot boxes are sealed and retained in a protected area for six (6) weeks following Election Day.
Are results made official on Election night?
At the conclusion of the count, the returning officer may make unofficial results available. The official results are not posted or announced until 12 noon on the fourth day following Election Day.
Who can ask for a recount?
The returning officer may call for a recount of the votes cast at one or more of the voting stations if:
- a candidate or official agent or scrutineer shows grounds that the returning officer considers reasonable for alleging that the record of the result of the count at any voting station is inaccurate;
- the returning officer considered that the number of valid ballots objected to or rejected ballots other than those on which no vote was cast, was sufficient to affect the result of the election; or
- the returning officer is of the opinion that there may have been an administrative or technical error that may have caused an error in the count of votes.
When can a recount happen?
An application for a recount may be made within 44 hours immediately following the closing of voting stations on Election Day. No applications for recount will be accepted by the returning officer after the prescribed 44 hours has passed.
How will I know if a recount is happening?
If the returning officer calls for a recount they must, within 12 hours of the recount, notify any candidates who may be affected and those election officers that the returning officer deems necessary to conduct the recount.
Are results made official on Election night?
At the conclusion of the count, the returning officer may make unofficial results available. Due to the ability for the returning officer to call a recount, official results are not posted or announced on election night.
When are election results official?
The returning officer is required to announce or post the official election results in the statement of results at 12 noon on the 4th day following Election Day, at the municipal office.
Within 120 days following the Election Day, candidates are required to file a disclosure statement as described in the Local Authorities Election Act, S 147.4 with the Secretary of the candidate’s local jurisdiction.