Calgary

Alberta election in 2015 cost 28% more than 2012

The snap Alberta election called by the previous Jim Prentice government was 28 per cent more expensive than the previous provincial contest.

Costs included in report from chief electoral officer, that also features 160 recommendations to government

Elections Alberta released its report into the 2015 vote, and says costs were up 28 per cent over 2012. (CBC)

The snap Alberta election called by the Jim Prentice government in 2015 was 28 per cent more expensive than the previous provincial contest. 

The total cost was $18,987,748, up from $13,631,864 in 2012, according to the newly released report on the election from the chief electoral officer

Drew Westwater, Alberta's deputy chief electoral officer, said there are a number of factors that raised the price, including the short notice. 

"We lost a year of preparation because the election's supposed to be going on now, as we're speaking," he said. 

"We don't have the opportunity, when it's a snap election call like that, to put the cost of anything out to tender so we can't get the best, lowest price from all the service providers that were out there."

Those services include things like renting spaces for returning offices. 

More Albertans

Westwater said a growing population also contributed to costs, with 10 per cent, or approximately 400,000, more electors to service in 2015. 

"That requires more staffing, more polls for them and more ballots, more poll books and all the staff and support mechanisms we have in place for that," he said. 

Elections Alberta employs "just under 18,000 Albertans during an election," said Westwater, adding staffing costs are the biggest expense for the organization, amounting to an increase of $1.7 million from 2012. 

There were also new expenses tied to an extra day of advance polling, new staff positions and new training resources. 

"We also changed our notification process for electors," said Westwater. 

While there used to be one "where to vote" card sent to each household, Elections Alberta sent an individual card for each elector 

"Lots of new initiatives, unfortunately that costs more money to do," said Westwater. 

Highlights

Some of the highlights from the report regarding the increased costs are:

  • $1.1 million increase in advertising costs: TV, which was new, and an increased social media presence
  • $800,000 increase in postage costs, including a 35 per cent increase in rates
  • $350,000 increase in printing costs.

The report also features 160 recommendations to the government on everything ranging from "refusal by election officer to carry out duties," to what to do in the case of a tie vote. 

With files from Scott Dipple

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