School Trustee By-Elections
In 2022, five small Alberta municipalities held by-elections.
The Town of Sylvan Lake held a 2022 by-election for 866 voters.
Not to be outdone, the Town of Gibbons held a five-way by-election, racking up 249 total votes.
The municipality of Sturgeon County held a by-election last year in which only 233 people cast votes.
The Town of Legal held a 2022 by-election with 157 total voters.
Finally, the town of Bon Accord, held a four-way by-election with a turnout of just 103.
We don't point out these small-turnout elections to make fun of these small towns.
Rather, we commend these towns for efficiently and effectively allowing their citizens to participate in the democratic process, ensuring they will be well-represented for the remainder of the electoral term.
Of course, the towns didn't actually have a choice in the matter.
According to Alberta law, any municipality where a vacancy occurs on its council prior to January 1st of a general election year must hold a by-election.
We require this because, despite concerns around the expense of a by-election, we value representation over the disenfranchisement that citizens would face being unrepresented by a municipal councillor for two, three, or even more than three full years if these by-elections didn't take place.
Strangely though, thanks to a quirk in elections laws, this isn't required for school board elections.
School boards can have a school trustee resign (in some cases just a week after the election!) and carry on as if nothing happened, all the way until the next election.
That can leave parents unrepresented for years and years.
If you want to learn more about this problem and how to help us fix it, take a read of our explainer piece from last week, which provides the details.
Alberta Parents’ Union