Airdronians who can't make it to the polls April 16 have five days, starting today, to cast their ballots. Advance polls run April 9 to 13 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
"We have over 240 [polling] locations throughout Alberta," said Drew Westwater, deputy chief electoral officer for Alberta. "No matter where you are in Alberta on those advance poll days, if you choose to vote in advance of election day...you can go to any one of those polls and cast your ballot, if you're a qualified elector."
The 30th Alberta General Election will mark the first time citizens can vote outside their electoral district's advance polling stations. Westwater said the change was made to make the process more "accessible and open."
"The changes were all made shortly after the last election and amendments made by the current government legislature," he said. "Last election, there was only four advance full days – now, there's five, and they made the change to allow [eligible voters] to vote anywhere rather than, 'you must vote at your designated locations.'"
Westwater said registered voters will already have their name on the voters' list and will receive a ballot for their electoral district with the names of their candidates on it. They will cast their vote the same as they would on election day.
"If you're not registered, you'd have to register at the poll by showing two pieces of ID, both with your name on it and one with your address on it, and fill out a form called a registration form. Once you're added to the list of electors, we give you a ballot and you can vote like anyone else," he said.
In Airdrie, advance polling stations are located at Hampton Inn and Suites, CrossIron Mills mall and Daybreak Community Church. However, polling at CrossIron Mills will only take place from April 11 to 13 – from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. April 11 and 12, and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 13.
Though the changes will likely make voting more convenient, allowing advance polling to take place at any station will result in a delay of the unofficial results.
"In past elections, we've counted all our polls from all our locations on election night, reported them on our website and then done an official count following that and report officially on the results," Westwater said. "This election, we will count all the ballots except for those that are voting anywhere, so if you're voting somewhere other than where you live, those votes will be counted after election night because we won't get them all back yet."
He said those votes will be counted in the days following the election and will be added to the official results released 10 days after the election.
If you are not registered to vote, you're unsure if you are, or if your personal information is out of date, contact Elections Alberta toll-free at 1-877-422-8683. The Voter Information Centre is open Monday to Friday from 8:15 a.m. to 8 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends.
"I encourage everybody to come out and vote. We're looking forward to seeing everybody out the polls and participating in the democratic process," Westwater said.