Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How Calgary's Election has changed since 1884

Calgary’s population in 1884, the year of its first election, was 506. Alberta wasn’t a province yet and the railway that made the settlement of the West possible was only a year old.

Calgary has definitely grown a lot since then, but how has the voting process changed?

When we vote in the 2010 municipal election on Oct. 18, we’ll be marking an X beside our selections, but this hasn’t always been the case. In 1917, Calgarians began voting according to the proportional representation system of election.

Under this system, each voter selected their number one candidate and then ranked the remaining candidates according to their preference. Depending on the number of accepted votes and the number of council positions available, a minimum number of first-choice votes were required to elect a candidate elected.

Surplus first-choice votes would then be transferred to the candidate indicated as the second choice, or third choice, once the second choice candidate had reached the minimum number of votes. The candidate who received the least number of first choice votes was automatically eliminated and his first choice votes were redistributed as well. Surplus votes continued to be transferred and counted in this manner until the required number of candidates were elected.

This system was retired in 1971, but voters were still able to cast their votes for more than one aldermanic candidate until 1977, when the process of electing one alderman for each of the wards was created.

Here are some other interesting facts about how voting has changed over the years:

  • The ward system was introduced in 1894. Each of the three wards had three aldermen.
  • In the 1894 election, the City Clerk acted as the Returning Officer and had two days to tally the votes. In the event of a tie, the City Clerk cast a vote to determine the winner.
  • 1952 was the first year the candidates’ occupations were listed on the ballot. This practice continued until 1974.
  • Starting in 1961, citizens were only able to vote for aldermanic candidates in the ward in which they lived, regardless of whether they owned additional property in another ward. This rule is still in effect.

Other Calgary City News blog posts:

No comments:

Post a Comment