Election eve: What Alberta voters need to know

EDMONTON — It’s been a marathon, 11-week election campaign. On Monday, after multiple cross-country trips for the federal party leaders – and millions of dollars spent – it will come to a close.

On Oct. 19, Canadian voters will decide who will form the next government and if it will be a majority or a minority.

READ MORE: Election 2015 – Last-minute voters’ guide 

At dissolution, the Conservatives had a majority of the seats: 159 out of 308. The NDP were the official Opposition with 95 seats. The Liberals had 36. The Bloc, Forces et Democratie and Green parties each had two seats, there were eight Independent MPs and four spots were vacant.

Since the campaign was called in early August, Ipsos polling has found all three major parties in the lead at some point.

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READ MORE: Liberals slip slightly, maintain clear lead in seat projections 

Emotions play a role at the polls 

While we all like to think Canadians make their voting decisions based on logic, that’s not always the case, said University of Alberta professor Tim Caulfield.

“We all think we’re very rational when we’re making these big decisions, but in fact, we’re all incredibly irrational. There’s lots of interesting studies to show that: the many biases that influence our voting behaviour.”

Caulfield, who is also the Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, said emotions and cognitive bias are even more at play closer to crunch time.

“First of all, there’s the bandwagon effect. We all like winners. So, when a party gets a lead, people are more likely to gravitate to that party.”

He said the confirmation bias is also a factor.

“If you are conservative or if you are left-leaning, you will go out and find things that confirm your belief,” explained Caulfield. “If you believe in a particular tax system, you’ll go out and find evidence that supports that.”

READ MORE: Strategists talk Ford brothers, the ground game and backroom deals 

He said even celebrity endorsements can impact how Canadians vote, for better or for worse.

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“All these strange things come into effect – it’s not just the issues, it’s not just the evidence, it’s not just rational voting behaviour – it’s all these things that come into play,” said Caulfield. “And believe me, the politicians know it.”

Alberta ridings to watch

Some ridings have been redrawn since the last election. Six new seats have been added to Alberta.

In Edmonton, polls suggest the newly-formed riding of Edmonton-Griesbach is too close to call between the Conservatives and NDP.

In Edmonton-Centre, it’s a tight three-way race between the Conservatives, NDP and Liberals.

The polls suggest Liberals are very competitive in Calgary-Centre, Calgary-Skyview and Calgary-Confederation.

READ MORE: Federal Election 2015 – Calgary’s 3 ridings to watch 

An estimated 3.6 million Canadians cast ballots in advance polls – a 71 per cent jump from 2011.

With files from Tom Vernon, Global News

WATCH: It’s the final night of campaigning for candidates and it has been one of the closest federal elections in recent memory. Provincial Affairs reporter Tom Vernon breaks it all down for us.

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