Asked to retweet #PINgate: Should Albertans stand up and be counted?

I was asked to retweet this blog initially published after the leadership election in September, 2014.

I thought long and hard about divulging the phone call I had from an MLA while working at a polling station on Saturday. With all of the controversy and criticism floating around the election, I couldn’t keep it quiet. There are so many stories floating around that I wish more people would share them.

I was preparing case studies for a client in the US and got the idea to write the blog because of the political scandal that had rocked Illinois a few years ago. Former Governor Rod Blagojevich tried to sell Obama’s Senate seat, among other things. He is serving 14 years behind bars for corruption, including the soliciting of bribes for political appointments. I’m going back to to teach another course in ethics and think I will have their brilliant audit minds come up with suggestions on how this election could be audited.

The election result is what it is. We have a new Premier designate. I will also say that I did support another candidate, but this blog is not about that. It’s not sour grapes, it’s about the experience and the resultant effects on all Albertans, not just PC members. Will this election process and denying people the right to vote have a lingering effect on an election in 2016?

The spread of votes was so vast that it is highly impossible for the result to be what it was. Having two sitting MLA’s who were Ministers of several portfolios during their tenure, it’s hard to believe that they would not have had more support than what the numbers indicated.  It was akin to a public flogging. Let’s face it, elections are heated and emotional events for some. It both unites and divides people. But when the vote is cast and the results come in, the party goes back to build a stronger base. Or so we hope. I think we got a glimpse of a fractured party when the elected winner opted not to have the other two candidates on stage with him. Now, using the low numbers as an excuse not to give Cabinet positions to the other candidates sends a strong punishing message. But democracy doesn’t exist if there isn’t competition.

Do all PC members have the right to vote for their leader? The answer is yes – as long as the member is legitimate and the intent to vote is there as well.  Did all the members have their chance to vote? The answer is no. Is there a way to find out how many couldn’t? Yes there probably is.  Let’s explore answers to these questions.

How  many memberships did PC Alberta have prior to the announcement of the election? (I think it was around 15,000. I don’t know where I got that number but it has been floating in the back of my mind).

How many memberships were sold during the campaign?

Of that number how many people got to vote? (we know 23,000)

Based on the number of total memberships sold, how many didn’t get to vote?

If the result is what I think it is, we would find that several thousand Albertans did not have the opportunity to vote, for one reason or another.

How does Elections Alberta and the verification process work?

I think most of us thought that we were automatically registered with Elections Alberta. That turned out to be not true. If there was any discrepancy between the way your name was registered with them and with PC Alberta, you could have been denied voting rights. For example if you are registered as Joe B Snird with Elections Alberta and just Joe Snird with PC Alberta, technically you could be disqualified. Other things like address changes could have affected this as well.

Because of the electronic vote, it should be easy to do an audit of the membership numbers that were issued PINs. Usually candidates are given a block of memberships to sell. The numbers could easily be traced and audited to see if a certain number of PINs was issued to any one group over another. Will we ever know?…probably not.

Will those who couldn’t vote forgive and forget about this experience by the time the next election rolls around?  Will PC Alberta lose supporters? Will this spur a growth in opposition parties?

There has  to be a will to be ethical. If that will doesn’t exist, or other goals are made priorities, might takes over from right. It’s like a mantra we’ve learned from Survivor. The tribe has spoken.

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