Tabulation change led to delay in voting results: Elections Alberta
An Elections Alberta official says a change in how advance “vote anywhere” ballots are counted likely contributed to a delay in publishing the results in Monday's provincial election.
Only a small fraction of results were available 90 minutes after polls closed.
And a United Conservative Party win wasn't called for another 90 minutes after that.
At some points, a candidate was shown as leading in a riding with a single vote.
Robyn Bell, a spokeswoman for Elections Alberta, says a key change made after the province's 2019 election was likely a factor.
She said it involves ballots that allow Albertans vote in advance at any polling station in the province.
“The report of tabulator results was occurring in returning offices for the first time this year. In the previous election in 2019, those ballots were transported back to Elections Alberta for a count and you may remember that resulted in a 2-1/2 day delay in reporting after the election,” she said.
“They're not just counting votes for the candidates in their electoral division, they could be counting results for candidates in multiple divisions.”
As well, Bell said transmitting the official statement of votes has to be inputted into the results site and every step of the way has a verification process.
“That just takes time and we prioritize the accuracy of reporting over the speed of reporting is ultimately what it comes down to.”
Bell said after every election, there's an opportunity to provide recommendations on what went well and what didn't. Recommendations come in the report of the Chief Electoral Officer about six months after the election. She said the legislative assembly also has a chance to make suggestions.
“It could result in changes for the next provincial election.”
Bell said despite the criticism, she thought things went well, although she understands the public was anxious to see the final results.
“It's just an evolution in the vote universe,” she said.
“In 2019, I think the delay in counting ultimately kind of resulted in people feeling like their vote didn't matter, because the election was called before those 'vote anywhere' ballots were even counted.”
Bell said there will be automatic recounts in Calgary Acadia and Calgary Glenmore, since the margin of victory in those constituencies was under 100 votes.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 30, 2023.