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RVC council halts voters' list project

Rocky View County council voted 6-3 to forgo the creation of a voters' list prior to the 2021 municipal election during a regular meeting July 9. Photo: Metro Creative Connection

Rocky View County (RVC) will no longer proceed with the development of a voters’ list before the next municipal election after council voted to end the project during a regular meeting July 9.

“I just can’t see how this is going to help with voter fraud,” Deputy Reeve Al Schule said. “[If] people are going to be fraudulent, they’re going to find another way.”

The creation of a voters’ list began with a notice of motion introduced by Coun. Samanntha Wright Jan. 23, 2018. Subsequently, council voted 7-2 to proceed with the project Feb. 13, 2018, despite a recommendation to delay from then-manager of Legislative and Legal Services Angie Keibel.

From the outset, Reeve Greg Boehlke and Coun. Mark Kamachi opposed the project.

“I…question how we want to hire 20 people – we want to spend in excess of a couple hundred thousand dollars to do this, and we still only get 30 per cent [voter turnout],” Boehlke said at the time.

Per council’s decision, the preparation of the list was to commence no later than this fall.

Municipal Clerk Charlotte Satink presented two options to council July 9 – the creation of a permanent electors register and a list of electors, which would cost $366,600, including $64,100 annually to verify elector information; or the creation of only a list of electors, costing $250,000.

Satink added, “RVC does not have any record of any voter fraud or charges being carried through.” During the discussion of the project in 2018, Keibel had noted staff reviewed two allegations of fraud following the 2017 election, which were sent to Cochrane RCMP for information. Keibel reported police did not intend to lay charges in the matter.

Wright continued to advocate for the voters' list project, saying it aligned with the core values of integrity, leadership and accountability outlined in council’s strategic plan.

“I think this speaks to that, not to mention the fact that we did vote this through earlier,” Wright said, indicating she planned to make a motion but would first cede the floor to her colleagues because she saw “a couple of lights on.”

Deputy Reeve Al Schule was then recognized by the chair, and immediately made a motion to end the project. Schule said, although he originally supported the project, “after the provincial election and listening to all the problems they had,” he was no longer in favour.

Schule was not the only councillor who’d apparently had a change of mind. Couns. Jerry Gautreau and Kim McKylor both told the Rocky View Weekly, while they had initially supported the creation of a voters list, they’d arrived at the belief that the cost of the project outweighed its benefits. According to McKylor, a list of electors would offer a “false sense of security,” and later said, “I’m not saying voter fraud doesn’t happen, I just don’t believe it’s happening to the tune of…$366,000.”

Henn said simply, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” He did not respond to a request for additional comments.

Schule’s motion was carried 6-3, with Couns. Kevin Hanson, Crystal Kissel and Wright opposed.

“Just because, perhaps, the province failed to execute properly, I don’t see that as any reason why we don’t give a good crack at it,” Hanson said. “That’s a pretty defeatist attitude.”

According to a July 10 RVC press release, “the County will maintain the existing process where each voter provides identification and signs a legal voter registration form on election day."

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