Friday, 20 January 2017 08:00

PCs gearing up for March party leadership vote with a new voting system in place

Written by  Stephanie Labbe
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As Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta party members choose their next leader, they will be doing so under a new voting system.

At the PC annual general meeting in May 2016, the  vote process was changed.
Katherine O’Neill, president of PC Alberta, says there were about 1,000 people in attendance at the AGM in May 2016 who voted.
The previous leadership voting system was based on one member, one vote.
By changing the way that voting system works it gives every constituency equal say on the leader, says O’Neill.
There are 87 constituencies in Alberta and every area gets 15 votes, so there isn’t one region that has more influence on the leadership results.
“What we were finding with the one-member, one-vote system was that Edmonton or Calgary, because of their population size, would generally pick the leader,” adds O’Neill.
The updated voting system allows people all over the province to have just as much say as someone in Edmonton.
Another reason for the change is there will be more discussion about the leadership contenders than the previous system where people simply attended to cast a vote and then leave.
With the new voting system, all of the communities get the chance to get to know all of the candidates and people will be able to hear what fellow members are saying in their local constituencies.
Because each area now matters so much, O’Neill says the candidates need to ensure they visit each constituency. In past elections, the candidates could miss some of the communities, but with the new voting system, the candidates have to visit each area in order to try to gain support.
An added benefit of the new system is the cost savings. O’Neill says it costs $1 million to run the one-member, one-vote system and the updated voting process costs only $250,000.
“This system … fits our needs for right now,” she adds.
The intent is for 87 “mini elections” to be held across the province from November last fall to February.
Every constituency will be allowed to elect 15 delegates.
Dates have been set for the mini elections for each constituency across the province.
People get the chance to either put their name forward to be a delegate or they could simply attend the election night and vote for whom they want to move forward.
Generally, party officials have seen about 30 names being put forward, so there has been elections of delegates.
Of those 15 delegates, three of them have to be youth. This was done, to help attract more youth to the PC party.
Once all the delegate elections are held, the 15 delegates from each constituency head to Calgary for the convention with the leadership vote taking place
March 18. All of the delegates will go into a room and continue to vote until one of the leadership candidates receives 50 per cent plus one.
O’Neill says party officials feel interest in the Progressive Conservatives has been growing due to more media exposure and the candidates are campaigning. They have also been selling more memberships.
“After the election, it was really not clear … we were definitely at a crossroads what was going to happen to the party and it’s been a lot of volunteer effort from people all over the province who kind of stepped up and said, ‘no we really still love this party,’” adds O’Neill.
She says it’s been positive, because they have seen a lot of people who were old friends, but also a lot of people who have never been a PC member before, take out a membership, particularly in the cities.
If people are interested in getting involved in the PC party and getting a membership they can contact their local constituencies. Memberships are about $10 a year.
To see when your constituency vote is taking place visit:
Most have already taken place or are happening right away.
In southern Alberta Little Bow Constituency’s took place Nov. 25; Cardson-Taber-Warner Jan. 20 in Raymond; Livingston-Macleod Jan. 20 in Claresholm; Lethbridge-West Jan. 27; Strathmore-Brooks Feb. 9 in Bassano; and Lethbridge-East Feb. 9.

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