Watch above: Problems arise with the system Alberta Progressive Conservatives will use to vote in a new leader. Vassy Kapelos explains.
EDMONTON — Frustration continues to grow among PC party members struggling to use a new system to vote for the leader and Alberta’s next premier.
Brad Ferguson, president and CEO of Edmonton Economic Development, complained the process is “unneccessarily complicated.”
My God that was unnecessarily complicated. Elections in Iraq have been better executed. We’re a 1st world country, right? #pcaa #pcldr
— Brad Ferguson (@EEDC_BRAD) September 5, 2014
Ken Dawes of Calgary, who says he has been a PC party supporter for 30 years, said it took him an hour to vote.
“The whole thing was a little on the frustrating side,” said Dawes.
“We’re running out of synonyms for gong show and mess,” said Robert Murray, vice president of research at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.
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“The real problem here is that we’re hearing that people’s memberships are being deemed invalid, that PIN numbers aren’t being produced in time. It’s somewhat interesting that you have the executive director of a provincial party in a majority government situation saying voters need to be patient and keep trying again.”
This is the first time the party has used electronic voting, and moved away from paper ballots. Members were to receive a PIN to use to vote online or over the phone, starting at 6 a.m. Friday.
READ MORE: PC party responds to voting system concerns ahead of leadership vote
By late morning, the phone number set up to help voters was overloaded. The party posted a message on its 广州桑拿论坛 page asking members call back later.
“That one’s not run by us, that one’s run by the voting company itself,” said PC Party Executive Director Kelley Charlebois, referring to the 1-800 number.
Charlebois was manning another voting help line Friday and admitted that one was very busy as well.
“Getting lots of calls. It’s constant, and that’s fine. That’s why we have help lines. A fair number of people are having membership card issues, where maybe they’ve lost their card or didn’t have the right card.”
He believes members wanted to vote early, which created a lot of volume early Friday.
“We have a surge and we expected that, but I think it’s greater than we expected and it’s not tapering off as quickly as we expected. We can manage that.
“It’s not the system itself that’s having problems, it’s the people who need information and answers.”
Charlebois predicted the volume would continue into Friday evening, but taper off into the night and pick up again early Saturday morning.
“We’re in the very early point in a 36-hour voting period. There’s lots of time and everybody’s vote is going to get counted.”
As complaints piled up, a 广州蒲友 account was set up to track them. The account, called PC LeaderFails, retweets messages from frustrated party members.
@PC_Alberta can’t even hear the message its so garbled. Sorry to all my students who bought memberships. It’s a sad joke of a process.
— Paul Monaghan (@MRMONAGHAN) September 5, 2014
Got my pin. Got my membership. Got my postal code, numbers only. “Unknown user or incorrect password”. Guess I don’t get to vote. #pcldr
— Joey Oberhoffner (@oberhoffner) September 5, 2014
The 广州蒲友 feed for candidate Thomas Lukaszuk was flooded with complaints.
If you’re having any problems with voting or getting your PIN number, please let me know. My volunteers will try to help. #pcldr #pcaa
— Thomas Lukaszuk (@LukaszukMLA) September 5, 2014
Lukaszuk told Global News he’s been getting a lot of calls from people having trouble voting, but says there is still time for the issues to be resolved.
“I will hold off my judgement at this point in time – we just started, but definitely there are a number of individuals who could not register to vote and there are a number of individuals who are experiencing difficulties, but there is still many, many, many hours to go, and I’m being very cautiously optimistic that all those problems will be resolved by the time the polls close.”
He added that his team of volunteers will be contacting supporters to try to help them through the voting process.
“I entered this race knowing that this would be an electronic vote… and I will try to work the best I can through it to the moment the polls close and then we’ll take it from there.”
After some time, Lukaszuk’s child was able to vote.
After half an hour on the phone to get missing PIN number…my teenager votes for Daddy. #pcldr #pcaa pic.twitter广州桑拿网/XILsAPVuTe
— Thomas Lukaszuk (@LukaszukMLA) September 5, 2014
Even a PC association board member said she wasn’t allowed to vote.
Got my pin. Card expires, Dec 2015. Sit @yycWestPC board. On every @PC_Alberta volunteer list that exists. REJECTED. CAN”T VOTE! #pcldr
— Brenda Meneghetti (@MomBMW) September 5, 2014
However, some PC staff members explained the problems weren’t that bad.
[email protected] some hiccups but IMO new system eliminates more problems than it creates-every leadership e-day process has complaints #pcldr
— Craig Loewen (@CraigLoewen) September 5, 2014
Reality check: people in some countries get shot/jailed for trying to vote. Those inconvenienced a few minutes take a breath. #pcldr #ableg
— Parker Hogan (@TPHogan) September 5, 2014
“There’s going to be people getting fed up and not wanting to vote again,” said Murray.
“There’s also going to be a lot of questions surrounding legitimacy come Saturday evening. Even if we see a first ballot win – which most people are predicting – immediately, there’s going to be doubt cast – even if that doubt is not legitimate – there’s going to be doubt cast on the outcome right off the bat.”
Global News is waiting for responses from leadership candidates Ric McIver and Jim Prentice.
Voting will close at 6 p.m. Saturday.
WATCH: Many Tory voters had difficulties with the electronic ballot system. Gary Bobrovitz reports.