Lethbridge axes designated polling stations in effort to increase fall voter turnout

Click to play video: 'What does the future of Lethbridge City Council look like?'
What does the future of Lethbridge City Council look like?
There’s no doubt Lethbridge City Council will be looking different by the end of this year with Mayor Chis Spearman announcing that he will not be seeking re-election. Taz Dhaliwal speaks with a former and current city councillor about life in municipal politics and what they think the development could mean. – Jan 7, 2021

While the 2021 municipal election is still four months away, the City of Lethbridge has announced some significant changes to its voting format.

For the first time ever, residents will be able to cast their ballots at the voting station of their choosing, and will not be assigned to their neighbourhood voting location.

This will apply to advance voting, which begins on Oct.1, as well as for election day on Oct. 18.

According to a Wednesday release, both the City of Lethbridge and the City of Red Deer will be following this format this year, making the two municipalities the first to do so in Alberta.

Click to play video: 'Chris Spearman announces retirement after nearly 8 years as mayor of Lethbridge'
Chris Spearman announces retirement after nearly 8 years as mayor of Lethbridge

“I am pleased to have collaborated with the City of Red Deer Returning Officer, Samantha Rodwell, to jointly announce this progressive initiative,” said Returning Officer Bonnie Hilford.

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“This improvement will provide more options for voting with a focus on convenience, flexibility and efficiency.”

Along with this change, other new initiatives include a web tool for monitoring lineups and wait times, drive-thru voting, and an accessibly voting station for visually impaired residents.

Read more: Lethbridge city council approves CIP plan as questions continue about budget cycle process

The last municipal election in 2017 saw a voter turnout of just 27 per cent. The city hopes these new initiatives will see that number improve.

“As part of this initiative, we are hoping to see an increase in voter turnout, as turnout for the last five elections has only been 31 per cent, on average,” Hilford said in the release.

A full list of candidates running for mayor, council, and school board trustee positions can be found on the city’s website. 

Nomination forms are being accepted until noon on Sept. 20.

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