Organizers of a meeting at a northeast Calgary hotel talked politics on Saturday; they’re worried that voter fraud may have been involved in a nomination race in December.
Defeated NDP candidate Roop Rai claims her race was affected by people voting from outside of the Calgary-North East riding.
“We need to develop a plan so that this fraud in the nomination process that we keep hearing about over and over again, that it doesn’t happen again,” Rai said at the meeting.
Rai said problems with the nomination system aren’t limited to her contest.
“We are aware that there are issues in the nomination process, especially in certain ridings and perhaps limited to certain ethnicities,” she said.
“These are the issues that we have been talking about in our living rooms for a long time but they haven’t come to the forefront and we think it’s important to start these conversations and start brainstorming ideas on how we can stop this.”
Rai is calling for stricter identification requirements, more education and an investigation, but Premier Rachel Notley said the party followed the requirements that are in line with the standards set by Elections Alberta.
“We have actually looked into it and we are very sorry these folks were disappointed,” said Notley on Friday.
“As I’ve said before, the ID requirements that were used for the nomination are those that were recommended by Elections Alberta. They were not able to give us enough evidence of problems to suggest that it was anywhere close to changing the outcome of the race. We will continue to monitor the use of those kinds of ID but definitely we were following the recommendations from Elections Alberta.”
Political analysts said these kinds of alleged scandals happen to all political parties.
Losing UCP candidates have demanded an investigation into alleged fraud in the Calgary-East riding over a November vote that saw Peter Singh win the contest.
Calgary MLA Prab Gill quit the UCP caucus last year after a report came out alleging voting irregularities at a nomination meeting.
“It is a problem for all ridings,” said Calgary political commentator Janet Brown. “You’ve got local people, enthusiastic people and they may or may not know the rules. They may or may not be trying to press the rules.
“I think each of these kind of accusations deserve some sort of an investigation, but I don’t think we should read too much into it, that it [is] something fundamentally wrong with the political system.”
Brown said the allegations will contribute to whether a candidate is seen as legitimate or not, suggesting that this is something the parties have to take seriously.
“We see more of the scandals with the UCP but that’s also because they’ve had more contested nominations,” she said. “I think the UCP is probably breathing a sigh of relief that there’s also some scandals popping up in these NDP nominations because I think it demonstrates that it’s not restricted to any one party.”
On Friday, the UCP released a report regarding the Calgary-East investigation. It concluded there is insufficient evidence to substantiate the allegations against Peter Singh.
“The United Conservative Party takes the integrity of its nomination events seriously,” said UCP spokesperson Matt Solberg.
“The allegations made regarding the nomination event in Calgary-East deserved a thorough and judicious inquiry and we are confident that the incident investigation led by the party’s legal counsel met this standard.”