April 25, 2023

Get Ready to Vote in the Provincial Election

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Photo: CBC

The Alberta Government is expected to call an election in May. Is this your first-time voting? Get ready to vote with the GSA!
In this blog, we will show you how elections work in this province, what the different levels and branches of government are, and what you’ll need to know to register to vote for the upcoming election.

Structure of the Government

Canada has a federated government structure, meaning that different levels of government are responsible for different policy areas.

  • First, there’s the federal government—which is Canada’s national government, based in Ottawa—is responsible for things like foreign policy and national defense.
  • Next are provincial governments, which are the governments based in each provincial capital, are responsible for areas like healthcare and post-secondary education.
  • Lastly are municipal governments, which handle more local matters like city infrastructure and emergency services.

            The upcoming election is a provincial election, so that means your vote will shape policies on healthcare, post-secondary education, and more for the province of Alberta.

Governments are further divided into three branches: 

  1. The Legislative Branch: Drafting, debating, amending, and voting on new laws. 
  2. The Executive Branch: Day-to-day administration of the government 
  3. The Judicial Branch: Court system: they handle the administration of the courts and review legislation 

In Alberta, the Legislative branch is the Alberta Legislature. An elected official who is part of the Legislative Branch is called a “Member of the Legislative Assembly,” or MLA. The Executive Branch is called the Executive Council, and members of the Executive Council are assigned a Ministry or government department to oversee and given the title “Minister.” For example, policies involving post-secondary education are under the “Ministry for Advanced Education,” and are currently overseen by the Minister of Advanced Education, Demetrios Nicolaides.

In Alberta, and Canada as a whole, Ministers also serve as MLAs. That means a Minister has duties both in the Legislative Branch and the Executive Branch. MLAs don’t run for a specific Executive Council position: once they’ve been elected to the legislature, they can be appointed to a Ministerial position by the Premier of Alberta.

The Premier of Alberta is the head of government in the Province of Alberta. They appoint MLAs to the Executive Council and serve as Party Leader to whomever has the greatest number of seats in the Legislature. The current Premier is Danielle Smith, who is also the MLA for the electoral district of Brooks-Medicine Hat.

How Elections Work

When you go to a polling station, you’ll receive a ballot with a series of names on it. Those names are the people who are running, in the electoral district that you live in, to be your MLA. That is who you, as an Albertan, vote for.

Most of the names on a ballet will have, just below them, the name of the political party they belong to. Whichever candidate receives the greatest number of votes from voters in that electoral district will represent that district in the Legislature, and the political party they belong to will gain one seat in the Legislature.

The political party with the greatest number of MLAs in the Legislature becomes the government of Alberta. The Leader of the party with the most MLAs in the Legislature becomes the Premier. 

Information on the 2023 Alberta Election

How to Register:
  • Follow this link to go directly to Elections Alberta’s registration page.
How to Vote:
Where to Vote:
  • The election will be held on May 29th, 2023. If you’re voting in person on May 29th, you’ll be assigned a voting station after you register. For alternative forms of voting, see the “How to Vote” link above.
Required Identification:
  • Follow this link to see what identification you need and, if you lack the required identification, what alternatives are available to you.

For more information on who’s running and for what party, see Elections Alberta’s list of MLAs and journalist Dave Cournoyer’s list of all the registered candidates for each electoral district. Additionally, you can find the platforms of each party on their respective websites.

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