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Voter fatigue not expected to impact Lethbridge municipal election: political scientist

Click to play video: 'Voter fatigue not expected to impact municipal election: ‘I think it will be the same’' Voter fatigue not expected to impact municipal election: ‘I think it will be the same’
WATCH: Albertans are set to go to the polls this fall not once, but twice. Federal and municipal votes will fall four weeks apart. Erik Bay takes a closer look at what impact the federal election could have on the polls at the municipal level – Aug 23, 2021

They’re beginning to appear everywhere in Lethbridge. Barely one week into the federal election campaign, candidate signs are creating chatter on social media.

Read more: Overlapping elections make for an overload of political homework for Albertans

“I don’t think you’re going to win an election with good signs, but a couple of misplaced signs could help you lose an election,” University of Lethbridge professor of political science Lars Hallstrom said.

Click to play video: '2 overlapping elections make for an overload of political homework for Albertans' 2 overlapping elections make for an overload of political homework for Albertans
2 overlapping elections make for an overload of political homework for Albertans – Aug 16, 2021

And what about the other looming vote?

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Is the federal race pulling attention away from the municipal election, which will take place less than a month after Canadians cast their federal ballots?

Hallstrom doesn’t believe so.

“It would be great to say (voter) fatigue if voters were always voting in municipal elections, but you can’t get tired from something you never do,” Hallstrom said.

Only 27 per cent of eligible Lethbridge voters cast a ballot in the 2017 municipal election and the city has averaged 31 per cent turnout in the previous five municipal votes.

Read more: Lethbridge election ballots to include question on potential ward system

“I think a lot of people view municipal politics in a very different light from provincial and federal politics. They don’t think Liberal, Conservative, NDP. They think about key or linchpin issues…. water, infrastructure, schools,” Hallstrom said.

The city is trying to boost voter turnout, allowing residents to vote at any station of their choosing in October.

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

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There will also be drive-in voting and a web tool to monitor lineups at each station.

“This improvement will provide more options for voting with a focus on convenience, flexibility and efficiency,” returning officer Bonnie Hilford said in a news release.

“We continue to see advocacy and efforts to make voting easier at the municipal level and it rarely has any meaningful impact,” Hallstrom said.

Click to play video: 'What to expect in the upcoming federal election' What to expect in the upcoming federal election
What to expect in the upcoming federal election – Aug 15, 2021

Hallstrom says while the federal election won’t have much effect on the municipal turnout, it could change how people vote when choosing the next mayor and council.

“People may express their dissatisfaction or frustration at the municipal level, if they see the federal election not going their way.”

The federal election is set for Sept. 20, while the municipal election follows on Oct. 18.

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