Advance voting surges, 58 candidates vow to disclose donors before election day

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More Edmontonians cast ballots through advance polling this month than in the last two civic elections combined.

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According to Edmonton Elections on Friday, 63,834 voters cast ballots across 12 advance polling stations from Oct. 4-14. The number of early voters is up from 26,198 in 2017, and 21,024 in 2013.

On Thursday, Edmonton Elections reported that one-tenth of eligible voters have already participated in the civic election and that 127,000 votes had been cast. This year, voters see two ballots at the polls. One ballot allows voters to select city council and school board trustee candidates, while the second will ask voters to choose up to three nominees for Senate appointments and answer two referendum questions.

The next opportunity for Edmontonians to cast their ballots is on election day, next Monday.

The City of Edmonton website notes that Edmontonians unable to vote during the advance period or on election day can apply for a special ballot until Monday at 4:30 p.m.

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These ballots, available since Sept. 22, can still be ordered by phone, email or online but to the elections office in person by 7 p.m. Monday.

Edmontonians also learned the names of city council and school board candidates who pledged to disclose their donors before Monday.

On Friday, Public Interest Alberta, a non-partisan, progressive advocacy group, released the results of a province-wide survey that asked candidates if they would both disclose their donor lists before Monday and work toward making campaign finance rules more transparent, such as requiring disclosures before election day in future municipal elections.

In Edmonton, 58 candidates agreed to both points, including five mayoral candidates, 32 city council candidates, and 21 school board trustee candidates — more than one-quarter of the 202 candidates across Alberta.

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Public Interest Alberta executive director Bradley Lafortune said this election is an opportunity for Albertans to make transparency an election issue.

“Knowing where money is coming from is a really critical step to making your choice for who’s going to represent you at every single level of the municipal election,” he said. “We’re hoping that all candidates who are elected — and those that aren’t — would advocate for that change in the name of transparency.”

Lafortune noted that some candidates who were interviewed for the survey but chose not to disclose before election day said they hadn’t asked if their donors were comfortable with releasing that information early.

Under the current rules, candidates need to file campaign disclosure statements by March 1, 2022 , more than four months after the election.

“But candidates can take matters into their own hands if they choose to,” Lafortune added, “and we’d like to give them a little bit of encouragement to do so.”

hissawi@postmedia.com

twitter.com/hamdiissawi

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