Executive Summary of the 2012 FDA                         Global Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta’s                    ...
Prepared by Mr. Stephen Garvey, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, University of British Columbiaand Master of Philoso...
Table of Contents:Introduction                               5Chapter 1: Electoral Finance               6Chapter Summary ...
Chapter 8: Recommendations                27References                                30Definition of Key Terms           ...
Introduction:The FDA audit of Albertas electoral legislation is based on non-partisanship and objectivity.The audit proces...
Chapter One: Electoral FinanceChapter one will focus on the FDA research and audit results of Albertan electoral finance l...
The FDA chose these sub-sections because they represent core areas of electoral finance. Basedon the concept of political ...
contributions and third party spending should not be restricted because they are an extension offreedom of speech and popu...
Chapter Two: Political Content of MediaChapter two will focus on the FDA research and audit results of Albertan laws on po...
Analysis:Based on the FDA scoring scales, Alberta scored 45 percent for the political content of media, 5percent below the...
The pie illustrates the level of fairness of the Alberta legislation on political content of media.Foundation for Democrat...
Chapter Three: Candidate and Party InfluenceChapter three will focus on the FDA research and audit results of Albertan law...
4. process of government;   5. registration of candidates;   6. registration of parties;   7. electoral complaints;   8. e...
registered candidates and parties, and caps on contributions and third party spending that isreflective of Albertas per ca...
Chapter Four: Voter InfluenceChapter four will focus on the FDA research and audit results of Albertan laws on voterinflue...
The FDA voter influence audit focuses on the following sub-sections not including relevant sub-sections from other section...
FDA argues that a high level of electoral fairness for voter influence does not necessarily equateto a fair electoral syst...
The pie illustrates the level of fairness of the Alberta legislation on voter influence.Foundation for Democratic Advancem...
Chapter Five: Overall Audit ResultsChapter five will show the FDA’s overall and sectional audit scores for the Alberta pro...
The pie illustrates the percentage breakdown of fairness based on the overall score of 52.2                               ...
Chapter Six: AnalysisChapter six will provide an overall analysis of the FDA’s findings.The Alberta provincial electoral s...
exception of the public transparency of electoral finances and value of a vote. Finance inequityand the sources of party f...
Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta   23
Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta   24
Chapter Seven: ConclusionChapter seven will provide a conclusion based on the FDA’s findings and analysis.To be consistent...
FDA Scoring Scales                    Score Range                 2012 Albertas Score              A+                     ...
Chapter Eight: RecommendationsChapter eight will set out the FDA’s recommendations on how to improve the electoral fairnes...
campaign expenditures. In addition, Canadian established federal parties are favored throughpublic subsidies based on the ...
registered candidates and parties.(The US federal electoral system requires that candidate and parties have equal access t...
ReferencesAlberta Views. (2012). “Going it Alone.” Editorial: Evan Osenton. January/February 2012.Alberta Press Council, C...
Ibrahim, M. Oweiss. Egypt’s Economy: The Pressing Issues. Retrieved from:       http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/imo3/ep...
Structures of Government, February 2012. Service Alberta. Retrieved from Service       Alberta website:       http://www.a...
Definition of Key Terms:The Foundation for Democratic Advancement characterized the following definitions:Candidate and pa...
the registration of parties based on reasonable popular support (rather than financial deposit orunreasonable popular supp...
·       Laws on the regulation of broadcasters and the press.The FDA defines “balance” in the media as equal political con...
History of Alberta Provincial Electoral SystemIn 1905, the Alberta Act established the Canadian province of Alberta. Since...
receiving most of their contributions from corporations, while the NDP received most of theircontributions from individual...
Another way to look at the voter turnout is from the standpoint of voters and non-voters:Yes of Provincial Election      P...
As shown in the table and graph above, in every election year since 1971, the percentage of thePC Partys seats in the Legi...
Research MethodologyMethodology of the Electoral Fairness Audit:The FDA research methodology is rooted in non-partisanship...
must entail political freedom within the bounds of political equality. Excessive political freedomwould likely lead to a p...
coverage of                              electoral discourse. The                    registered candidates                ...
As illustrated in the matrix example above, scores are based on the formula if yes=#, if no=#.The scale rests on yes and n...
FDA Researchers:Mr. Stephen Garvey, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, University of British Columbia andMaster of Phi...
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Alberta-- Executive Summary of the 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit Report

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The 2012 FDA electoral fairness audit of Alberta's legislative level of government uses new matrices in the audit process as outlined to the Research Methodology section of the report. These matrices are more comprehensive of electoral systems than previous FDA audits, and therefore, the use of the new matrices may result in higher electoral fairness scores.

FDA auditors measured Alberta with a 54% overall electoral fairness score. (0% is the lowest score attainable; 50% is the minimum passing grade; 100% is the maximum and reasonably attainable score.)

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Alberta-- Executive Summary of the 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit Report

  1. 1. Executive Summary of the 2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta’s Provincial Electoral SystemIn terms of its legislated process, the Alberta provincial electoral system received an overallunacceptable electoral fairness score of 52.2 percent (out of a reasonably attainable score of100 percent). In addition, the Alberta system received two unacceptable passing scores andtwo unacceptable failing scores in the four audit sections.The FDA believes that these scores reflect both a strong core electoral process, and yetsignificant deficiencies in the areas of electoral finance and political content of media. TheFDA argues that the Alberta electoral process, in particular, dominance by the premier andcabinet of the Legislative Assembly, non-regulation of major media, high caps oncontributions and third party spending, inclusion of corporations and unions in the electoralprocess, and no campaign expenditure limits, undermines the legitimacy of Albertasdemocracy.The FDA believes that the Alberta electoral system requires reform in order to create a basisfor an equal playing field for candidates and parties and a broad and balanced electoraldiscourse. The FDA believes that the implementation of its reform recommendations willcreate an informed electorate, competitive elections, and an Alberta Legislature that moresignificantly reflects the voice of the people from its districts. Electoral Fairness Audit Completed February 28, 2012. Updated April 13, 2012. Updated June 28, 2012.
  2. 2. Prepared by Mr. Stephen Garvey, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, University of British Columbiaand Master of Philosophy in Environment and Development, University of Cambridge.Purpose of Alberta Electoral Fairness Audit:The purpose of the Foundation for Democratic Advancement (FDA)’s electoral fairness audit (the“Audit”) is to determine a comprehensive grade for electoral fairness in Alberta at the legislative levelof government. This Audit is an extension of the FDA’s global audit of electoral fairness involving allcountries that hold political elections. The purpose of the global audit is to quantify electoral fairness,establish benchmarks for electoral fairness, identify areas of democratic advancement and progression,and encourage democracy reform where needed.The goal of the FDAs Alberta report is to give the people of Alberta and other stakeholders aninformed, objective perspective of the Alberta provincial electoral system and providerecommendations for reform of the system. Albertans may want to use this information as a way to helpdetermine their 2012 electoral choices. The release of the FDA Alberta report just prior to the 2012Alberta Election coincides with this initiative.The views in this electoral fairness audit are the views of the FDA only. The FDA’s members are in noway affiliated with Elections Alberta or any of Albertas registered/non-registered political parties. TheAudit is an independent assessment based on objectivity, transparency and non-partisanship. The FDAassumes no responsibility or liability for any errors in the measurement and calculation of its auditresults or inaccuracies in its research of relevant Albertan legislation.About the Foundation for Democratic Advancement:The Foundation for Democratic Advancement is a non-partisan and independent democracy reform andadvocacy organization. The FDAs reforms center on increasing the voice of people in constituencies.Members of the FDA embrace the following principles: progress, innovation, objectivity, andtransparency. The FDAs mission is to advance fair and transparent democratic processes whereverelections occur, thereby bringing the people to the forefront democratic discourse. (For moreinformation on the FDA visit: www.democracychange.org)© 2012, Foundation for Democratic AdvancementAll rights reserved.Foundation for Democratic Advancement728 Northmount Drive NWP.O. Box 94, Calgary, Alberta,Canada, T2K 1P0An online version of this report can be found at: www.democracychange.orgFor further information and/or comments please contact the FDA at info@democracychange.org
  3. 3. Table of Contents:Introduction 5Chapter 1: Electoral Finance 6Chapter Summary 6Introduction 6Analysis 7Chapter 2 Political Content of the Media 9Chapter Summary 9Introduction 9Analysis 10Chapter 3: Candidate and Party Influence 12Chapter Summary 12Introduction 12Analysis 13Chapter 4: Voter Influence 15Chapter Summary 15Introduction 15Analysis 16Chapter 5: Overall Audit Results 19Chapter 6: Analysis 21Chapter 7: Conclusion 25
  4. 4. Chapter 8: Recommendations 27References 30Definition of Key Terms 33History of the Alberta Political System 36Research Methodology 40FDA Audit Team And Associates 44
  5. 5. Introduction:The FDA audit of Albertas electoral legislation is based on non-partisanship and objectivity.The audit process entails three major components: 1. Research of Albertas electoral legislation. 2. Audit of the legislation based on audit team consensus, and FDA matrices and scoring scales. 3. Analysis of findings.The value of scores in the FDA matrices are based on fundamental democratic principles oflegislative neutrality, political freedom, and political fairness, and the comparative impact ofvariables on democracy. For example, if there is no electoral finance transparency then this resultwill impact other sections such as the legislative process, because without financial transparency,it will be difficult to enforce electoral finance laws and prevent and discover electoral financewrongdoing. Consequently, according to the FDA scoring system, zero financial transparencywill result in a zero score for legislative process as well.The FDA research component is objective, because it is simply a compilation of the legislativeand financial data for Alberta.The FDA audit component is both objective and subjective. It is objective when determining yesand no facts, such as does province A have caps on electoral contributions—yes or no? It issubjective because of the predetermined scores for each audit section, and the scores given foreach section. The FDA acknowledges that there is no absolute scoring system.The FDA minimizes subjectivity through non-partisanship, the predetermination of scores basedon consensus of FDA auditors, the application of core democratic concepts such as electorallegislative neutrality, political freedom, and political fairness, and the valuation of thecomparative impact of variables on democracy. In addition, the FDA has a minimum quorum offive experienced auditors during audit sessions. For further discussion of the FDA methodologyplease see the Research Methodology chapter on page 40. Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 5
  6. 6. Chapter One: Electoral FinanceChapter one will focus on the FDA research and audit results of Albertan electoral finance lawswith respect to the electoral fairness.Chapter Summary: Alberta received an unacceptable score of 47.7 percent (out of a reasonablyattainable 100 percent score) for the fairness of its electoral finance legislation. The FDAmeasured deficiency in 52.3 percent of the Alberta legislation. The FDA found electoral fairnessin the following: public transparency of electoral finances, caps on contributions to candidates,parties, and constituency associations, caps on third party spending, and reasonable legislativeprocess to enforce electoral finance laws. The FDA found electoral unfairness in the following:no candidate and party expenditure limits, caps on contributions to parties that are not reflectiveof Alberta per capita income and income inequality, and no laws that disallow corporations andunions from making electoral contributions and spending as third parties. The level and areas ofelectoral unfairness measured by the FDA suggest that electoral finance reform is necessary inorder to encourage an equal candidate and party playing field, a broader and more balancedelectoral discourse, and ultimately a more informed electorate.Introduction:This chapter focuses on the Alberta electoral finance laws and the FDAs audit of them in termsof electoral fairness. Based on the political concepts of egalitarianism and political liberalism,the FDA audit team audits electoral finance laws according to their equity for registeredcandidates and parties, and equity for voters (see Definition of Key Terms and ResearchMethodology for more explanation). Also, based on the concepts of one person, one vote andgovernment of the people, by the people, and for the people, the FDA auditors assume that apeoples representative democracy will disallow corporations and unions from making electoralcontributions and spending as third parties, because corporations and unions are not people. TheFDA does not associate electoral expenditures directly with free speech, nor does the FDAbelieve that freedom alone comprises an optimal peoples representative democracy. The FDAbelieves that freedom must be balanced with equity, so that the most powerful (economically andpolitically) do not dominate and the will of people from districts is reflected in the representativegovernment. The FDA audit team audits from the standpoint of a peoples representativedemocracy.The FDA electoral finance audit focuses on the following sub-sections: 1. electoral finance transparency; 2. contributions to candidates and parties; 3. caps on contributions to candidates and parties; 4. campaign expenditure limits; 5. caps on third party spending; 6. legislative process. Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 6
  7. 7. The FDA chose these sub-sections because they represent core areas of electoral finance. Basedon the concept of political liberalism (as defined in Research Methodology), electoral financetransparency is weighted the highest due to its importance in preventing corruption and fraud,and informing the public on the sources of candidate and party funds. The FDA audit of electoralfinance includes research of Albertas electoral finance legislation and the application of theresearch to the FDA matrices. Matrix scoring is based on an overall score of 0 to 10 out of 10.Analysis:Alberta received a score of 47.7 percent for the electoral fairness of its electoral financelegislation (see pie below). Based on FDA scoring scales, the score is 2.3 percent below theminimum passing score of 50 percent. This reflects unacceptable scores overall in electoralfinance legislation. Auditors found that public transparency of electoral finances could be acatalyst for reform of others areas of Albertas electoral finance legislation. Barring this potentialfor reform, the FDA found that Alberta has a large area of electoral finance deficiency (52.3percent); illustrated by high caps on contributions to parties and third party spending, nocampaign expenditure limits, and no laws that disallow corporations/unions from contributingand spending as third parties.High caps on contributions and third party spending allow Alberta corporations/unions andwealthy Albertans to disproportionately influence electoral discourse. With no equitablecampaign expenditure limits, candidates and parties have unequal electoral funds, which againcan create an imbalanced electoral discourse, and ultimately impact how Albertans vote. Thereare no measures in the electoral system to create equitable electoral finances for candidates andparties. Consequently, there has been gross electoral finance disparities over the last twoprovincial elections, in which the PC party has had more than double the campaign financescompared to all the other parties combined (Public Interest Alberta; Lisac, 2004). To illustrate, inthe 2008 Alberta general election, the PC Party had 36 percent more political contributions thanall the other parties (seven) combined ($2,285,789 to $1,463,593) (Foundation for DemocraticAdvancement, 2012). The FDA finds this inequitable political environment antagonistic to abroad and balanced electoral discourse and informed electorate.Further, with no campaign expenditure limits, the FDA argues that the Alberta electoral system isrewarding candidates and parties who can raise the most money and have the ability to raisefunds. The FDA believes that fund-raising and the ability to raise funds are not necessarily anindication of popular support; rather, they are an indication of voter influence. This is likelylinked to high income inequality, and is therefore skewed to the wealthier segments of society.Moreover, larger, more established political parties, due to their experience, network, andresources, have an advantage over small and new parties in fund-raising.The FDA believes that the following reforms will create a political environment based on issuesand backgrounds rather than financial interests and fund-raising capabilities: reasonablyattainable caps on contributions to parties, no corporation/union contributions or third partyspending, and a reasonably attainable expenditure limit on campaign finances. To argue that Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 7
  8. 8. contributions and third party spending should not be restricted because they are an extension offreedom of speech and popular support (see US Supreme Court, Citizens United v. FederalElection Commission, January 21, 2010), begs the question as to why they are needed, if thepopular support is determined by the electorate on Election Day? The FDA argues that equatingspeech with electoral spending assumes erroneously that fund raising is necessarily linked topopular support. Further, unlimited freedom to contribute and spend electorally may limit thefreedom of speech of others who are not able to contribute and spend, thereby their voice may beovershadowed, for example, by the voice of powerful money interests. The pie illustrates the level of fairness of the Alberta legislation on electoral finance. Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 8
  9. 9. Chapter Two: Political Content of MediaChapter two will focus on the FDA research and audit results of Albertan laws on politicalcontent of media and with respect to electoral fairness.Chapter Summary: Alberta received a score of 45 percent for the electoral fairness of its medialaws. The score means that 55 percent of Albertas media laws are unsatisfactory. The FDA foundelectoral fairness in the following areas: legislative freedom of media, and disclosurerequirements on electoral surveys/polls. The FDA found electoral unfairness in the followingareas: no requirement for impartial and balanced political coverage before and during thecampaign period, and no media ownership concentration laws or equivalent. The level and areasof electoral unfairness measured by the FDA suggest that media reform is necessary in order toencourage a broad and balanced electoral discourse, an equal playing field for candidates andparties, and ultimately a more informed electorate. The FDA argues that Albertas medialegislation deficiencies result from a disparity between media freedom and political equality.Introduction:This chapter focuses on Albertas media laws and the FDAs audit of them. Based on the conceptsof egalitarianism and political liberalism, the FDA audit team examines media laws according tothe standard of impartial and balanced political coverage before, during and after a campaignperiod (see Definition of Key Terms and Research Methodology for further explanation). Basedon the concepts of one person, one vote and government of the people, by the people, and forthe people, the FDA assumes that impartial and balanced political coverage by media supportsdemocracy by promoting a broad and balanced electoral discourse and a more informedelectorate. The FDA demands balance between media freedom and equity of media coverage sothat the most powerful media and government players do not dominate electoral discourse.The FDAs media legislation audit focuses on the following sub-sections: 1. impartial and balanced political coverage; 2. media ownership concentration laws; 3. surveys/polls; 4. freedom of media; 5. press code of practice/conduct.The FDA chose these sub-sections because they represent core areas of the political content ofmedia. Based on the concept of political liberalism and the importance of freedom of expressionin a democracy, freedom of media is weighted the highest of the five sub-sections. The FDAsaudit of media includes research of Albertas media legislation and then application of theresearch to the FDA matrices. The matrix scoring is based on an overall score of 0 to 10 out of10. Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 9
  10. 10. Analysis:Based on the FDA scoring scales, Alberta scored 45 percent for the political content of media, 5percent below the minimum passing score of 50 percent. The score reflects more electoralunfairness than electoral fairness in the political content on media. The results demonstrate alarge area that could compromise Alberta’s election results in the coming election.Based on legislated freedom of the media and disclosure requirements on survey/polls, the FDAscored 45 percent electoral fairness in media legislation. FDA matrices weigh freedom ofexpression the highest due to its relevance to democracy. In the media section, freedom of themedia represents 40 percent of the total score and Alberta received full percentage points in thisarea. However, FDA Freedom and Democracy podcasts (2011) revealed that freedom alonecannot guarantee democracy. Without monitors to ensure equality, freedom of the media willallow the most powerful and wealthy individuals and organizations to dominate the politicalprocess. The FDA concludes that Alberta does not monitor freedom of the media in order toguarantee equality.There is no legislative requirement in Alberta for impartial, balanced or pluralistic politicalmedia coverage. There are no media concentration laws or equivalent to encourage a pluralisticmedia and prevent significant concentration of media ownership. There are no public subsidymeasures to help encourage balanced campaign coverage, and ultimately, balanced electoraldiscourse. The Alberta Press Councils Code of Practice does not mandate impartial/balancedpolitical or campaign coverage. These findings suggest that Albertas media is susceptible topartisan, imbalanced political and campaign coverage, and limited coverage from few sources. Amedia network with significant ownership rights in television, radio, and the press coulddominate the Alberta electoral discourse, just as a media ownership oligopoly with similarviewpoints could do likewise. Alberta legislation allows for this possibility, as demonstrated inthe 2004 Alberta Provincial Election. Election coverage mentioned the the ProgressiveConservatives 58% of the time, the Liberals 16% of the time, and the NDP only 12% of the time(Wesley and Colborne, 2005).The FDA argues that an electorate that is informed in the platforms of all relevant politicalparties will greatly impact the outcome of the election. It is essential for Albertas democracy tohave, at minimum, balanced and pluralistic campaign coverage. There are public policy optionsavailable; as illustrated by media ownership concentration laws in Norway, France, and Bolivia,or legal requirements for fair and balanced political coverage and public measures to ensure fairand balanced campaign coverage in Venezuela (FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Reports onNorway, France, Bolivia, and Venezuela, 2011). Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 10
  11. 11. The pie illustrates the level of fairness of the Alberta legislation on political content of media.Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 11
  12. 12. Chapter Three: Candidate and Party InfluenceChapter three will focus on the FDA research and audit results of Albertan laws on candidateand party influence and with respect to the electoral fairness.Chapter Summary: Alberta received a score of 51 percent for the electoral fairness of itslegislation on candidate and party influence. The score indicates that Albertas laws on candidateand party influence scored slightly higher than satisfactory in areas overall. The FDA foundelectoral fairness in the following areas: reasonable length of the campaign period, reasonableand fair process to determine electoral boundaries, reasonable registration requirements ofcandidates and parties, electoral complaints process for candidates and parties, fair presentationof candidates on ballots, scrutineers at polling stations, disclosure requirements on surveys/polls,legislated freedom of speech and assembly, public transparency of electoral finances, caps oncontributions to candidates, parties, and constituency associations, caps on third party electoralspending, reasonable legislative process to enforce the Election Act, and reasonable votingprocedures including voter assistance, protection, and registration requirements. The FDA foundelectoral unfairness in the following areas: no candidate and party expenditure limits, caps oncontributions to parties that are not reflective of Alberta per capita income and income inequalitydata, no laws that disallow corporations/unions from making electoral contributions andspending as third parties, no proportional representation, and a less reasonable governmentprocess. The FDA argues that these areas of electoral unfairness may allow some parties anunfair financial advantage over other parties through their access to wealthy segments of Albertasociety and/or their ability to raise funds. The FDA believes that in the areas of electoralunfairness, reform is necessary in order to encourage equal levels of candidate and partyinfluence, broad and balanced electoral discourse, and an informed electorate.IntroductionThis chapter focuses on Alberta laws pertaining to candidate and party influence. Based onconcepts of egalitarianism and political liberalism, the FDA audit team examines election lawsaccording to their equity for registered candidates and parties (see Definition of Key Terms andResearch Methodology for further explanation). Based on the concepts of one person, one voteand government of the people, by the people, and for the people, the FDA auditors assume that arepresentative democracy supports equitable treatment of candidates and parties. The FDAargues that political freedom alone does not guarantee a democratic process, but that democracyalso requires political equality.The FDAs candidate and party influence audit focuses on the following sub-sections notincluding relevant sub-sections from other audit sections: 1. Campaign period; 2. methodology for determining winners of districts; 3. electoral boundaries; Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 12
  13. 13. 4. process of government; 5. registration of candidates; 6. registration of parties; 7. electoral complaints; 8. electoral lists and ballots; 9. scrutineers; 10. candidates and party campaign advertisements.The FDA chose the sub-sections above and relevant sub-sections from other sections becausethey represent core areas of candidate and party influence. Based on the concepts ofegalitarianism and political liberalism (as defined in Research Methodology), freedom of speechand assembly, electoral finance transparency, and process of government have the highestweight. The FDA audit of candidate and party influence includes research of Albertas legislationpertaining to candidate and party influence and then application of the research to the FDAmatrices. Matrix scoring is based on an overall score from 0 to 10 out of 10.Analysis:Alberta received a score of 51 percent for candidate and party influence. Based on the FDAscoring scales, the score is 1 percent above the minimum passing score of 50 percent. Resultsindicate that Albertas legislation on candidate and party influence scored slightly abovesatisfactory in areas overall. The FDA found electoral fairness in the following areas: reasonablecandidate, party, and voter registrations requirements, fairness of electoral boundaries, allowancefor scrutineers, reasonable voter protection and measures, and freedom of speech and assembly.The FDA found electoral unfairness in the following areas: no candidate and party campaignexpenditure limits, no legal requirement on the media for impartial and balanced electoralcoverage, weak process of government which allows monopolization by the Alberta cabinet, noproportional representation, no media ownership concentration laws, high cap on contributions toparties, and no laws which disallow corporations/unions from contributing to candidates andparties and spending as third parties. As in the previous sections, the FDA measured a large zoneof unfairness that may allow some candidates and parties to have significant campaignadvantages over other candidates and parties.As mentioned in the Definition of Key Terms, impartiality, balance, and equity define electoralfairness. When looking at legislation, FDA auditors need to determine its equity in relation to allregistered candidates and parties. This is not a straightforward requirement. For example,although Albertas high cap on contributions applies to all candidates and parties, a high cap willlikely favor those who have connections to wealthy segments of Alberta society, and who havean ability to raise more funds. Alberta has no campaign expenditure limits for candidates andparties, which will likely favor large, more established parties over small and new parties,through the larger parties greater ability to raise funds. The FDA argues that equitable laws needto replace these areas of favoritism and unfairness in Albertas electoral process. For example, theFDA recommends campaign expenditure limits that reflect the financial capability of all Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 13
  14. 14. registered candidates and parties, and caps on contributions and third party spending that isreflective of Albertas per capita income and income inequality data.The pie illustrates the level of fairness of the Alberta legislation on candidate and party influence. Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 14
  15. 15. Chapter Four: Voter InfluenceChapter four will focus on the FDA research and audit results of Albertan laws on voterinfluence and with respect to the electoral fairness.Chapter Summary: Alberta received a score of 65 percent for the electoral fairness of itslegislation pertaining to voter influence. The score means that Albertas laws on voter influencehave more than satisfactory scores in areas overall. The FDA found electoral fairness in thefollowing sections: reasonable length of the campaign period, legislated one person, one vote,freedom of expression and assembly, reasonable voter registration requirements, existingelectoral complaints process, special ballots for citizens unable to vote on election day, publictransparency of electoral finances, caps on contributions to candidates, parties, and constituencyassociations, caps on third party electoral spending, reasonable legislative process to enforceelectoral finance laws, disclosure requirements on electoral surveys/polls, reasonable process todetermine electoral boundaries, and reasonable registration requirements of candidates andparties. The FDA found electoral unfairness in the following sections: no campaign blackoutperiod, no provisions for inclusion of minorities in the Legislative Assembly, no candidate andparty expenditure limits, high cap on contributions to parties, no laws which disallowcorporations/unions from making contributions and spending as third parties, no requirement forimpartial and balance political coverage before and during the campaign period, no mediaownership concentration laws or equivalent, no proportional representation, and undemocraticprocess of government. The level and areas of electoral unfairness measured by the FDA suggestthat voter influence reform is necessary in order to encourage more equity for voters during thecampaign period, broad and balanced electoral discourse, and a more informed electorate.However, since the voter influence received the highest score of the fours audit sections, thissuggests that reforms for voter influence is less necessary, especially in consideration of themulti-application of sub-sections. Consequently, media and electoral finance reform will havesignificant impact on the electoral fairness of both voter influence and candidate and partyinfluence.Introduction:This chapter focuses on the Alberta laws pertaining to voter influence. The FDA audit teammeasures Albertas laws according to their equity for voters based on concepts of egalitarianismand political liberalism (see Definition of Key Terms and Research Methodology for furtherexplanation). The equity of voters entails not only equal value of votes, but also equitableopportunity for voter influence prior to and during the campaign period, and reasonable means totake advantage of these opportunities. The FDA acknowledges that perfect equal opportunity andmeans to take advantage of opportunity are very likely not attainable. For example, it isinconceivable how government and society can ensure that all voters have the same education,income, intelligence, leisure time etc. However, the FDA is interested in the overall equity ofAlberta legislation pertaining to voter influence. Does the legislation promote equity withinreasonable bounds? Are there areas of the legislation that clearly favour certain voters? Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 15
  16. 16. The FDA voter influence audit focuses on the following sub-sections not including relevant sub-sections from other sections: 1. blackout period; 2. value of a vote; 3. freedom of speech and assembly; 4. voter registration requirements; 5. voter electoral complaints; 6. voter protection; 7. voter assistance; 8. citizens living abroad; 9. inclusion of minorities.The FDA chose these sub-sections above and relevant sub-sections from other sections becausethey represent core areas of voter influence. Freedom of speech and assembly is weighted thehighest based on the concept of political liberalism. The FDA audit of voter influence includesresearch of Albertas election law and then application of the FDA matrices. The matrix scoringis based on an overall score of 0 to 10 out of 10.Analysis:Alberta received a score of 65 percent for the electoral fairness of its legislation pertaining tovoter influence. Based on the FDA scoring scales, the score is unacceptable. (A score of 70percent is the threshold for acceptability.) The score means that Albertas legislation on voterinfluence has more satisfactory areas overall. Of the four audit sections, voter influence receivedthe highest measurement of electoral fairness.Similar to the candidate and party influence section, the voter influence includes relevant sub-sections from the electoral finance, candidate and party influence, and political content of mediasections. These sub-sections accounts for almost the entire 35 percent zone of measuredunfairness. The FDA found electoral unfairness in the following: no campaign expenditure limitson candidates and parties, high caps on contributions to parties and third party spending, no lawswhich disallow corporations/unions from making contributions and spending as third parties, nomedia ownership concentration laws or equivalent, and no legislative requirements for impartialand balanced campaign coverage. The FDA found electoral fairness in the following: reasonablevoter registration, advanced voter assistance measures, detailed voter protection measures, andfreedom of speech and assembly. If the audit did not allow for multi-application of sub-sections,the FDA would have measured near 100 percent for voter influence. Consequently, Albertalegislation on voter influence does not require reform except for provision to ensure the inclusionof minorities in Alberta Legislature and voter electoral complaints prior to the Election Day.As mentioned in the Research Methodology, the voter influence section measures the equity ofvoter influence in terms of the value of a vote and before and during the campaign period. The Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 16
  17. 17. FDA argues that a high level of electoral fairness for voter influence does not necessarily equateto a fair electoral system. Laws on candidate and party influence, media laws, and electoralfinance laws may impact the outcome of an election. For example, the relative equity betweenvoters electoral influence may be offset by inequity between candidates and parties electoralinfluence such as grossly unfair registration requirements of candidates and parties. What goodis 65 percent equity between voters, if major media favors a particular party? (With no regulationof the political content of media, in the 2004 Alberta General Election 58% of media electionstories analyzed by the authors mentioned the Progressive Conservatives, while the Liberalswere mentioned 16% of the time, and the NDP 12% of the time according to the findings from(Wesley and Colborne, 2005). What good is 65 percent equity between voters, if electoralfinance laws favour the party with greater access to the wealthy sectors of society and which isbetter able to raise funds? (With high caps on contributions and no campaign expenditure limits,in the 2008 Alberta general election the PC Party had 36 percent more political contributionsthan all the other parties (seven) combined ($2,285,789 to $1,463,593) (Foundation forDemocratic Advancement, 2012).)To illustrate the electoral unfairness of the Alberta system, the $30,000 cap on contributions toparties will likely favour wealthy voters over less wealthy voters (see for example the findingsunder Caps on Contributions to Candidates and Parties above). Similarly, the inclusion ofcorporations/unions in contributions and third party electoral spending will favour theirdominance over voters, because corporations/unions are wealthier than most voters, especially inAlberta where the corporate sector represents the high end of the income spectrum. No mediaownership concentration laws and no requirements that the media has broad and balancedelectoral coverage will likely favour voters who are aligned ideologically with the mediaorganizations over voters who are not. No blackout period will favour voters who are alignedwith individuals and organizations with the most influence on electoral discourse. No campaignexpenditure limits on candidates and parties will favour voters aligned with candidates andparties who are better able to raise funds. Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 17
  18. 18. The pie illustrates the level of fairness of the Alberta legislation on voter influence.Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 18
  19. 19. Chapter Five: Overall Audit ResultsChapter five will show the FDA’s overall and sectional audit scores for the Alberta provincialelectoral system.1. FDA research and audit results for the electoral fairness of Albertan laws on electoral finance:47.7 percent2. FDA research and audit results for the electoral fairness of Albertan laws on the politicalcontent of media:45 percent3. FDA research and audit results for the electoral fairness of Albertan laws on candidate andparty influence:51 percent4. FDA research and audit results for the electoral fairness of Albertan laws on voter influence:65 percentTotal score: 52.2 percent The pie illustrates the level of fairness based on the overall audit results. Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 19
  20. 20. The pie illustrates the percentage breakdown of fairness based on the overall score of 52.2 percent and the four audit sections.The pie illustrates the percentage breakdown of unfairness based on the overall score of 47.8 percent and the four audit sections.Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 20
  21. 21. Chapter Six: AnalysisChapter six will provide an overall analysis of the FDA’s findings.The Alberta provincial electoral system received an unacceptable overall electoral fairness scoreof 52.2 percent out of a reasonably attainable score of 100 percent. Two audit sections receivedunacceptable passing scores, and two audit sections received unacceptable failing scores. Thesemeasurements suggest that the Alberta electoral system is in an unstable position by borderingthe overall failing zone of 49.99 percent or less. New electoral legislation could easily moveAlberta into the electoral unfairness zone. The FDA believes that the existing zone of electoralunfairness, 47.8 percent, suggests that the Alberta system is susceptible to compromise throughissues such as unequal distribution of campaign contributions among political parties andseverely imbalanced and partisan media.The FDA found electoral fairness in the following: voter issues, electoral finance transparency,enforcement of the Election Act, determination of electoral boundaries, disclosure ofsurveys/polls, voter, candidate, and party registration requirements, and freedom of speech andassembly. At the same time, the electoral system has significant deficiencies in the following:high caps on contributions to parties and third party spending, no laws which disallowcorporations/unions from making contributions and spending as third parties, no requirements ofimpartial, balanced or even pluralistic political coverage by the media, no expenditure limits oncandidate and party electoral spending, no proportional representation, and monopolistic processof government through the dominance of the Alberta Legislative Assembly by the Albertacabinet.Similar to the US federal electoral system, the FDA believes that an emphasis on freedom versusequality has weakened the Alberta electoral system. As stated in the Research Methodology,freedom alone can only guarantee that the strongest and most powerful (economically andpolitically) will dominate. The FDA believes that optimal democracy results from a balancebetween freedom and equality. Perhaps the political establishment in Alberta wants excessivefreedom considering the enormous and disproportionate wealth generated by Albertas primaryindustries, oil and gas, as compared to other Albertan industries. On the other hand, perhaps theAlberta political establishment does not understand freedom and democracy in the same way asthe FDA or the consequences from having too much and too little freedom.The FDA measured political content of the media (55 percent unfair) and electoral finance (52.3percent unfair) as the most unfair aspects of the Alberta electoral system. The FDA found theseto be gaping holes of unfairness, which could allow a wealthy minority to dominate campaignfinances or a large media conglomerate to dictate electoral discourse. These deficiencies inAlberta media and electoral finances have a significant impact on candidate, party, and voterinfluence. They impair the possibility for balanced representation of a pluralistic party system inAlberta. It also affects the ability of voters to make an informed choice during an election. TheFDA found that the Alberta system does very little to offset electoral unfairness, with the Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 21
  22. 22. exception of the public transparency of electoral finances and value of a vote. Finance inequityand the sources of party funds are available through public transparency measures. The FDAbelieves that this information can lead to positive reform. The Alberta law of one person, onevote means that the people of Alberta decide who governs, however, if the public is notadequately informed of all their electoral choices its political power can and will be reduced. TheFDA argues that the potential for unequal electoral finances combined with imbalanced politicaland electoral content by the media will affect electoral discourse, and ultimately how informedthe electorate is. The FDA believes that voters will likely not vote for a candidate or party that isnot familiar to them. The political power of one person, one vote is not enough to guaranteeelection outcomes that truly represent the voice of the people.The flow charts below capture an overview of the major elements of the Alberta electoral systemand their interactions: Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 22
  23. 23. Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 23
  24. 24. Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 24
  25. 25. Chapter Seven: ConclusionChapter seven will provide a conclusion based on the FDA’s findings and analysis.To be consistent with fundamental democratic principles such as one person, one vote, will ofthe people, and government for, by, of the people, the FDA believes that the Alberta provincialelectoral system requires significant reform. Presently, the electoral system is susceptible toinequitable candidate and party electoral finances, imbalanced and partisan political coverage bythe media, and inequitable candidate, party, and voter influence. Certain concentrations ofwealth, political power, and media ownership can determine a degree of electoral unfairness inAlberta. The FDA found that unfairness in electoral finance and media content, key elements offreedom, has worked to undermine a democratic electoral process. The FDA concludes that theelection system is significantly connected to wealthy elements in Alberta and likely disconnectedfrom the majority. The notion of a fair and equitable Alberta electoral system, despite certainelements of fairness, is an illusion. Small and new parties cling to the hope from one person, onevote, that they can overcome huge barriers of unfairness and inequity. The system expects thepublic to make informed choices on Election Day after inundating them with partisan andimbalanced political coverage.The powers to be in Alberta need to look themselves in the mirror and ask if doing the wrongthing is really worth it.The FDA believes that the people of Alberta need to align themselves with candidates, parties,and organizations who truly represent their interests (rather than money interests), and who arecommitted to reforming the Alberta provincial electoral system into a system which is only aboutthe people of Alberta.The table below shows the position of Albertas overall electoral fairness score in the FDAscoring scale: Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 25
  26. 26. FDA Scoring Scales Score Range 2012 Albertas Score A+ 85% to 100% n/a Exceptional democratic 100% maximum scoreprocess and reasonably attainable A 80% to 84.99% n/a Outstanding democratic process B+ 75% to 79.99% n/a Very good democratic process B 70% to 74.99% n/aAcceptable democratic process D to C+ 50% to 69.99% 52.20% Unacceptable democratic process (many deficiencies and/or major deficiencies in the electoral legislation) F 0% to 49.99% n/a Unacceptable, failed 0% minimum score democratic processFoundation for Democratic Advancement (2012) Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 26
  27. 27. Chapter Eight: RecommendationsChapter eight will set out the FDA’s recommendations on how to improve the electoral fairnessof the Alberta provincial electoral system.The FDA believes that the Alberta provincial electoral system requires significant reform frombordering a failed state. The FDA outlines below what it thinks are necessary reforms that needto take place:Electoral Finance: 1. The caps on contributions to parties need to be reduced from $15,000 in non-election years to about $4,000 and from $30,000 in election years to about $7,000 in election years.(FDA calculations are from the electoral finance audit section under Caps on Contributions toCandidates and Parties based on Alberta per capita income levels and income inequality data.Canada at the federal level has a $1,000 cap on contributions to candidates, and France has a€4,600 Euro cap (about $6,200 CAD) cap during the campaign period and €7,500 Euro cap(about $10,100 CAD) during non-election periods (FDA Global Electoral Fairness Reports onCanada and France, 2011).) 2. Contributions from corporations/unions and third party electoral spending to candidates, parties, and constituency associations should not be allowed.(FDA believes that the will of the people, the basis for democracy, is exclusively about citizens;corporations/unions are not citizens in terms of the democratic concept of one person, one vote;corporations/unions are not people. Also, by removing corporations/unions from electoralfinance, would help prevent wealthy elements in society from having disproportionate impact onelectoral discourse. In the following countries, for example, corporations/unions cannot makeelectoral contributions: Canada and France at the federal levels of government (FDA GlobalElectoral Fairness Reports on Canada and France, 2011).) 3. Expenditure limits need to be placed on candidate and party campaign expenditures. The number of candidates running, size of electoral divisions, and financial capabilities of candidates, parties, and constituency associations should determine the limits. The expenditure limits need to be reasonably attainable by all registered candidates, parties, and constituency associations.(The Canadian federal electoral system has expenditure limits. FDA Global Electoral FairnessReport on Canada (2011). However, expenditure limits are a mute point if they still producesignificant inequity in electoral expenditures. Canada has no measures such as public subsidiesbased on the financial need of all registered parties that would ensure fair and equitable Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 27
  28. 28. campaign expenditures. In addition, Canadian established federal parties are favored throughpublic subsidies based on the number of seats won. A party with large popular support and noseats won will receive no public subsidies. In France, there are candidate expenditure limits, andif candidates attain at least 5 percent of the popular vote in their constituency, it receives back 50percent of their campaign expenditures. Also, there are public subsidies available for newpolitical parties (FDA Global Electoral Fairness Report on France, 2011).) 4. Public subsidies need to be available to small and new parties based on reasonable popular support and to larger parties based on reasonable popular support and need.(France has public subsidies for new political parties based on level of contributions andelectoral official support. Also, public subsidies are available to parties that receive at least 1percent of the popular vote, and campaign expenditures for candidates are refunded by 50percent if at least 5 percent of the popular vote is attained (FDA Global Electoral Fairness Reporton France, 2011).)Political Content of Media: 1. Media needs to be required to publish and broadcast impartial and balanced electoral coverage during the campaign period, in order to help ensure balanced electoral discourse and foster an informed electorate.(Venezuela has constitutional and legislative requirements that the medias electoral content mustbe fair and balanced (FDA Global Electoral Fairness Report on Venezuela, 2011).) 2. Media needs to be required to publish and broadcast pluralistic and balanced political coverage outside of the campaign period, in order to encourage balanced political discourse and produce an informed electorate.(Venezuela has constitutional and legislative requirements that the medias electoral content mustbe fair and balanced (FDA Global Electoral Fairness Report on Venezuela, 2011).) 3. Effective media ownership concentration laws need to be applied to all sectors of the Alberta media, in order to encourage a pluralistic media.(France, Norway, and Bolivia for example have media ownership concentration laws. Boliviarequires that media ownership concentration conform to the following ratio: 1/3 private, 1/3government, 1/3 social and indigenous groups and Bolivia has constitutional laws prohibitingmonopolies and oligopolies (FDA Global Electoral Audit Reports on France, Norway, andBolivia, 2011).)Candidate and Party Influence: 1. The media needs to be required to charge equal electoral advertisement rates to all Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 28
  29. 29. registered candidates and parties.(The US federal electoral system requires that candidate and parties have equal access to mediafor electoral advertisement and equal cost of electoral advertisements (FDA Global ElectoralFairness Report on the USA, 2011).) 2. An open list proportional based system should determine winners of electoral districts. This system allows for representation of the popular vote as opposed to the first-past-the- post system. (Strong popular support represents a proportionally represented government, whereby the party in power deserves majority control of an Assembly.)(Norway and Sweden have an open list, Sainte-Laguë’s modified method proportional basedelectoral systems (FDA Global Electoral Fairness Reports on Norway and Sweden, 2011).) 3. Government process reform should require the winning party and its cabinet base the passage of legislation on at least 50 percent of popular support (in terms of elected officials’ actual voter support) in the previous election, rather than legislative dominance (FDA reform initiative, 2012). 4. In order for the people of Alberta to remove corrupt political representatives and have a direct say in government policy, policy referendum and recall legislation needs to be established.(Bolivia provides a model for these referendum processes: popular initiative referendum forissues such autonomous regions, constitutional reform, international treaties etc., and revocationcandidate/party mandate referendum (FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report on Bolivia,2011).)Voter Influence: 1. A comprehensive inquiry needs to be implemented which identifies minorities in Alberta and the extent to which their views are represented in the Alberta Legislature. If the Alberta Legislature does not represent some minorities, the system should take measures to ensure their representation including guaranteed seats in the Assembly.(New Zealand has guaranteed parliamentary seats for the Maori population; Norway has aseparate parliament for the Sami population; Syria has guaranteed parliamentary seats based ongender and occupation; and Iraq has guaranteed seats for women and religious minorities (FDAGlobal Electoral Fairness Reports on New Zealand, Norway, Syria, and Iraq, 2011).)The FDA believes that these reforms if implemented will help return Alberta to the people ofAlberta, and allow Albertans to realize their individual and collective potential through freedom,fairness, and equal opportunity for all. Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 29
  30. 30. ReferencesAlberta Views. (2012). “Going it Alone.” Editorial: Evan Osenton. January/February 2012.Alberta Press Council, Code of Practice, 2006-2007. Retrieved from Alberta Press Council website: http://www.albertapresscouncil.ca/code_of_practice.htmlBlackwell, W. Christopher. (2003). “Athenian Democracy: a brief overview.” In Adriaan Lanni, ed., “Athenian Law in its Democratic Context” (Center for Hellenic Studies On-line Discussion Series). Republished in C.W. Blackwell, ed., Dēmos: Classical Athenian Democracy (A. Mahoney and R. Scaife, edd., The Stoa: a consortium for electronic publication in the humanities [www.stoa.org]). February 28, 2003.Canadian Charter on Rights and Freedoms, 1982. Retrieved from Canadian Department of Justice website: http://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/charter/Election Act, Revised Statutes of Alberta. (2000, c. E-1). Retrieved from the Service Alberta website: http://www.qp.alberta.ca/574.cfmpage=E01.cfm&leg_type= Acts&isbncln=9780779733903Elections Alberta. (2009). “2008 Annual Report of the Chief Electoral Officer: The Electoral Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act for the Calendar Year 2008.” Retrieved from the Elections Alberta website: http://www.elections.ab.ca/ %20Website/files/Reports/2008_ANNUAL_REPORT_NET_ POSTING_JAN_14_2009.pdfElections Alberta. Various information retrieved from Elections Alberta website: http://www.elections.ab.ca/Public%20Website/index.htmElection Almanac. (2011). Alberta provincial election 2011 election results. Retrieved January 14, 2012, from http://www.electionalmanac.com/canada/alberta/results.phpElectoral Boundaries Commission Act, Revised Statutes of Alberta. (2000, c.E 3 as amended (the Act))Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, Revised Statutes of Alberta (2000, c. E-2). Retrieved from the Service Alberta website: http://www.qp.alberta. ca/574.cfm?page=E02.cfm&leg_type=Acts&isbncln=9780779730315Jensen Harold, & Young Lisa. (2005). “Electoral Democracy in Alberta: Time for Reform.” Institute for Advanced Policy Research, University of Calgary. Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 30
  31. 31. Ibrahim, M. Oweiss. Egypt’s Economy: The Pressing Issues. Retrieved from: http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/imo3/epe/epe.htmLegislative Assembly Act, Revised Statutes of Alberta. (2000 Chapter L-9 Current as of November 1, 2010). Retrieved from the Service Alberta website: http://www.qp.alberta.ca/574.cfmpage=L09.cfm&leg_type=Acts&isbncln=97807797536 59Lessig, Lawerence. (2011). Republic, Lost. New York: Hachette Book Group.Lisac, M. (2004). In Barbour D., Penny M. (Eds.), Alberta politics uncovered taking back our province. Edmonton: NeWest Press.Macpherson, C. B. (1962). Democracy in alberta: Social credit and the party system (2nd ed.) University of Toronto Press.Myles, John. (2011). “Why Have Poorer Neighbourhoods Stagnated Economically, While The Richer Have Flourished?” Working Paper. University of Toronto.Proposed Electoral Division Areas, Boundaries, and Names for Alberta, Interim Report to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. (February, 2010), from http://www.altaebc.ab.ca/EBC%20Interim%20Report_web5mb.pdfPublic Interest Alberta. (2009). How Alberta compares on money and politics- political, election and campaign finance in Alberta: realities, comparison, and possibilities for reform. Retrieved from Public Interest Alberta website: http://pialberta.org/sites/default/files/Documents/howalbertacomparesmp.pdfRadio Regulations, 1986. Retrieved from the Department of Justice Canada website: http://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR%2D86%2D982/Stewart, D., & Archer, K. (2000). Party democracy in Alberta. In V. Adams (Ed.), Quasi- democracy: Parties and leadership selection in Alberta (pp. 3-21). Vancouver: UBC Press.Television Broadcasting Regulations, 1987. Retrieved from the Department of Justice Canada website: http://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-87-49/The Citizen’s Guide to Alberta Legislature, 2010. (7th Edition). Retrieved from http://www.assembly.ab.ca/pub/gdbook/citizensguide.pdf Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 31
  32. 32. Structures of Government, February 2012. Service Alberta. Retrieved from Service Alberta website: http://www.albertacanada.com/immigration/living/government-structure.aspxWesley, J.J., & Colborne, M. (2005). “Framing Democracy: Media Politics and the 2004 Alberta Election.” presented at Annual Meeting of the Canadian Political Science Association, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario. Retrieved from http://www.cpsa-acsp.ca/papers-2005/Wesley,%20Jared.pdf Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 32
  33. 33. Definition of Key Terms:The Foundation for Democratic Advancement characterized the following definitions:Candidate and party influence refers to the opportunity and ability of candidates and parties tocampaign in the public domain for elected positions. This opportunity and ability occur before,during, and after an election period. Candidate and party influence may involve political contentof media, electoral finance, and voter influence (as defined below). In the terms of the FDAelectoral fairness audit, which focuses on electoral process, candidate and party influenceincludes:· Registrations requirements for candidates and parties.· Laws on candidates and parties access to media and reasonable opportunity to take advantage of the access.· Regulations on access to major debates.· Electoral complaints process for candidates and parties.· Laws on contributions to candidates and parties.· Procedures for formation of electoral lists and boundaries.· Procedures for the determination of elected winners in districts.· Regulations on the political content of public and private media.· Laws on the structure of state bodies and their relationship in terms of political power.· Length of the campaign period.· Rules on right of reply in the media for registered candidates and parties.In the FDA electoral fairness audit, candidate and party influence only encompasses laws,regulations, procedures etc. that affect the electoral influence of candidates and parties. Forexample, candidate and party influence does not encompass laws on electoral complaints byvoters nor does it encompass laws on voter assistance at polling booths.Electoral fairness refers to the impartiality and equitability of election law before, during, andafter an election period. In the context of the Audit, electoral fairness involves concepts relatingto political content in the media, candidate and party influence, electoral finance, and voterinfluence. In particular, this includes evaluating impartiality and balance of political content inthe media, equitable opportunity and ability for registered candidates and parties to influencevoters and government, equitable electoral finance laws, and equitable opportunity and ability forvoters to voice political views and/or influence the outcome of an election.Electoral fairness does not entail bias through for example legislation which gives a concreteelectoral advantage to one registered party over another, or legislation that allows equitableaccess to media without facilitating equal opportunity to take advantage of equal access. Incontrast, electoral fairness would include a broad, balanced diffusion of electoral propaganda byregistered political parties during the campaign period, equal campaign finances (beyond equalexpenditure limits) for all registered parties according to the number of candidates endorsed, and Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 33
  34. 34. the registration of parties based on reasonable popular support (rather than financial deposit orunreasonable popular support).Electoral fairness in any democratic process must include an equal playing field for registeredparties and candidates, distinguishable by voters according to a clear political platform, and abroad and balanced political discourse in where information about electoral choices are clear andavailable to the voting public.Electoral finance refers to electoral finance laws applied to registered candidates and partiesbefore, during, and after an election period. Electoral finance also encompasses campaignfinance which is restricted to the campaign period.In the context of the FDA electoral fairness audit, electoral finance includes:· Caps on electoral contributions (or the lack of).· Caps on candidate and party electoral expenditures (or the lack of).· Procedures for financial disclosure and reporting of candidate and party electoral finances.· Procedures for the handling of electoral contributions by registered candidates and parties.· Public electoral subsidies (or the lack of).· Laws on who can make electoral contributions.· Laws for third party electoral expenditure (or the lack of).· Rules for electoral deposits by registered candidates and parties.Electoral finance does not include non-financial laws, regulations, procedures etc. such as lawson candidate and party access to media, political right laws like freedom of speech and assembly,rules on right of reply in the media, laws on the political content of media, and laws on voterassistance.Political content of media refers to the political content of radio and television broadcasters, theprinted press, and online news media such as news sites before, during, and after an electionperiod. This content may entail news stories, editorials, articles, programs, and group analysisand discussion. It does not include electoral advertisements by candidates, parties, and thirdparties. Electoral advertisements by candidates and parties are included in candidate and partyinfluence, and electoral advertisements by third parties are included in voter influence andelectoral finance.In the context of FDA electoral fairness audit, political content of media includes:· Registration requirements for television and radio broadcast companies and press companies.· Laws on the ownership concentration of media (or the lack of).· Laws on the political content of media before, during, and after a campaign period.· Laws on freedom of the press and broadcasters. Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 34
  35. 35. · Laws on the regulation of broadcasters and the press.The FDA defines “balance” in the media as equal political content of all registered politicalparties. This definition supports the premise that voters should have balanced information on allregistered candidates and parties, and election outcomes reflect the will of the voting public. TheFDA does not support the idea that incumbent or previously successful parties should be favoredin media coverage in a current election as this could create bias based merely on past results, andpotentially weaken the process of capturing the will of the people in the present. In addition, theFDA does not support unlimited freedom of broadcast and press media. The FDA believes thereis a misleading connection between freedom of media and democracy. The purpose ofdemocratic elections is to capture as accurately as possible the will of the people from districts. Abroad and balanced electoral discourse supports the will of the people producing an informedelectorate. The FDA concedes that if sufficient media ownership concentration laws existed toproduce pluralistic media ownership and equitable coverage of all registered political parties, anyimbalance in political content in the media could be canceled out.Voter influence refers to the citizens who are eligible to vote and their opportunity to expressthrough articles, letters to editors, blogs, advertisements, spoken word etc. their political voice inthe public domain and to vote. Voter influence applies to before, during, and after an electionperiod.In the context of the FDA electoral fairness audit, which focuses on electoral process, voterinfluence includes:· Laws and regulations on freedom of speech and assembly.· Laws on the registration requirements for voters.· Laws on voter assistance at the polling booth.· Rules on right of reply by voters in the media.· Laws on the inclusion of minorities in the electoral process.· Caps on electoral contributions and candidate and party expenditures (or the lack of).· Caps on third party electoral expenditures (or the lack of).· Laws on electoral complaints to the election authority by voters.· Laws on the ownership concentration in the media (or the lack of).· Laws on the political content of the media.· Registration requirements for candidates and parties.In the context of the FDA electoral fairness audit, voter influence may involve political contentof media, candidate and party influence, and electoral finance. The involvement is contingent onthe impact on voter influence. For example, no cap on contributions to candidates and partieswill affect voter influence because no cap favors voters with more financial wealth, and therebycreate inequity and imbalance in voter influence.(Foundation for Democratic Advancement, 2012). Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 35
  36. 36. History of Alberta Provincial Electoral SystemIn 1905, the Alberta Act established the Canadian province of Alberta. Since this time, there haveonly been majority governments, with four parties having power: The Liberal Party from 1905 to1921; the United Farmers of Alberta (UFA) from 1921 to 1935; The Social Credit Party from1935 to 1971; and the Progressive Conservative Party which has ruled from 1971 to the time ofwriting in 2012 (Election Almanac, 2011). Macpherson (1962) described Albertas system duringthe reign of The Social Credit Party as not a multi-party, one-party or non-party system, but as aquasi-party system for numerous reasons. These include the swift manner in which the UFA andSocial Credit Party came into power (which could also be said of the Progressive ConservativeParty, going from six seats out of 65 in the Legislative Assembly in 1967, to 45 of 75 seats in1971 (Election Almanac)), the lack of a competitive method in creating policies, and the fact thatparties were still used and opposition parties still present. Stewart and Archer (2000) characterizeopposition parties as entities which struggle more to survive than to win governments.A variety of explanations have been given for this quasi-party system. Macpherson (1962)focuses on the origin of Alberta, a province tightly controlled by the federal government with apopulation similar in class structure. He attributes the relative dissolution of the federal partiesprovincial counterparts during the reign of the UFA and Social Credit Parties to distrust of thefederal government. Lisac (2004) notes that during the reign of the Alberta ProgressiveConservative Party, politicians fostered a similar distrust. In addition to this apparent culturalexplanation, Stewart and Archer (2000) discuss the relationship between longevity of party ruleand perceptions of the party leader, noting the popularity of long-serving leaders and premiersWilliam Aberhart, Preston Manning, Peter Lougheed and Ralph Klein. Stewart and Archercontrasts the reigns of these individuals with that of former Progressive Conservative leader andPremier Don Getty, whose time in office was marked by an increasing opposition size.Other explanations for the political state in Alberta center on the disparities between the parties,in particular between the Progressive Conservatives, and Liberals and New Democratic Party(NDP). Lisac (2004) focuses on the greater experience of Progressive Conservative candidatescompared to those in the opposition. He concludes that there is little reason for someone tobecome a candidate for an opposition party, due to impairment of future non-politicalemployment, hostility from the governing party, making less money than other governmentmembers (due to such members presence on boards and agencies) and having less mediacoverage than the governing party. The last point is supported by findings from Wesley andColborne (2005) which state that during the 2004 Alberta General Election, 58% of provincialmedia election stories mentioned the Progressive Conservatives while the Liberals and the NDPgarnered 16% and 12% of coverage, respectively. Research also reveals a disparity in campaignfinances. Quantitatively, Lisac notes that in 2003 the Progressive Conservatives raised $2.3million, the Liberals raised $348, 759 and the NDP raised $417, 966 for their respectivecampaigns. According to Public Interest Alberta (2009) the Progressive Conservatives spenttwice as much as all other parties combined in the 2004 and 2008 elections. Public InterestAlberta also notes qualitative differences in financing, with the Progressive Conservatives Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 36
  37. 37. receiving most of their contributions from corporations, while the NDP received most of theircontributions from individuals. The Alberta electoral system, in particular its first-past-the-postsystem, has also been blamed for the weak state of opposition parties in the province(McCormick, cited in Stewart and Archer, 2000).Voter Turnout:Another aspect of the Alberta provincial electoral system is relative low voter turnout. Over lastfive provincial elections, voter turnout has been low and on an overall decline:Year of Provincial Election Percentage of Voter Turnout2008 40.62004 44.72001 52.81997 52.81993 60.2Elections Alberta (2010). Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 37
  38. 38. Another way to look at the voter turnout is from the standpoint of voters and non-voters:Yes of Provincial Election Percentage of Voter Turnout Percentage of Non-voters2008 40.6 59.42004 44.7 55.32001 52.8 47.21997 52.8 47.21993 60.2 39.8Elections Alberta (2010).The table above demonstrates that in the last two Alberta provincial elections, there weresignificantly more non-voters than voters. The 2008 election had an 18.8% difference and the2004 election had a 10.6% difference.Elections Results:Further, the Progressive Conservative Party has won a majority of the seats in the AlbertaLegislature since 1971:Year Seats Won by Percentage of Percentage of PC Party Assembly Seats Popular Vote1971 49 of 75 65.3 46.41975 69 of 75 92 62.71979 74 of 79 93.7 57.41982 75 of 79 94.9 62.31986 61 of 83 73.5 51.41989 59 of 83 71.1 44.31993 51 of 83 61.4 44.51997 63 of 83 75.9 51.22001 74 of 83 89.2 61.92004 62 of 83 74.5 46.82008 72 of 83 86.7 52.7Wikipedia, List of Alberta General Elections (2012). Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 38
  39. 39. As shown in the table and graph above, in every election year since 1971, the percentage of thePC Partys seats in the Legislative Assembly has been significantly greater than the PC Partyspercentage of popular vote. In addition, the most significant difference in seats and popular voteoccurs when the PC Party has the greatest number of seats in the Legislative Assembly.History of Albertas Electoral Process:During the 1910s, plurality defined Alberta’s electoral system. In 1926, a dual electoral systemreplaced plurality in where Edmonton and Calgary had multi-member districts and a singletransferable vote (STV). The STV ranks candidates in order of preference and has a quota systembased on popular vote and voter preferences. Rural areas had an alternative vote (AV) system.The AV system is similar to the STV, except there are single-member districts, and candidatesneed to earn a majority of the votes. In 1956, a single member plurality (SMP), commonlyreferred to as first-past-the-post, replaced the dual system and is still in effect at the time ofwriting (Jensen & Young, 2005).From 1971 to 1975, the number electoral districts were 74. In 1979, the number of electoraldistricts increased to 79, and from 1986 to 2009, the number of electoral districts increased to 83.In 2010, the number of electoral districts again increased to 87 (Elections Alberta, 2012). Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 39
  40. 40. Research MethodologyMethodology of the Electoral Fairness Audit:The FDA research methodology is rooted in non-partisanship and the political concepts ofegalitarianism and liberalism. A non-partisan approach allows the FDA to remain as objective aspossible.Egalitarianism is part of the FDA methodology from the standpoint of political equality (orneutrality), in which each person has one vote of equal value. The FDA also extends politicalequality into non-election and election periods, demanding a relatively equal playing field forregistered candidates and parties and broad and balanced political discourse. The FDA believesthat political equality is a core component of democracy, whereby electoral legislation is neutralfor all candidates and parties, the value of a vote is same for all eligible voters, and candidatesand parties have an opportunity to disseminate their of political view points in a reasonablybalanced manner. The FDA recognizes that complete political equality is not attainable, butassumes that a reasonable state of political equality is possible.Liberalism is part of the FDA methodology from the standpoint of political freedom, andprogress, innovation, and reform through that freedom. The FDA believes that political freedomis also a core component of democracy, whereby candidates and parties, citizens, and mediapersons are permitted to express their political views.The FDA believes that the union of freedom and equality, an essential part of democracy, meanscompromise for the greater good of society and political freedom within the bounds of politicalequality.Based on its research of international electoral systems and study of fundamental democraticconcepts, the FDA believes that optimal democracy results from a balance of freedom andequality. Too much freedom can allow the most powerful (or wealthy) to dominate politically,and too much equality can weaken individual freedoms to a point that impedes progress andinnovation. The FDAs methodology centers on finding the optimal balance by identifying andanalyzing extremes on either end of the freedom/equality continuum and reasonable methods inthe electoral process.The FDA uses egalitarianism and liberalism as the basis for its methodology because in theFDAs opinion, these concepts are consistent with core democratic principles such as politicalfreedom and equality. With reference to John Rawls and The Theory of Justice, Rawls concept ofthe “veil of ignorance" supports the theoretical justification for political fairness and equality. Inthe “veil of ignorance” prior to the formation of society, no reasonable person would gamble onhis or her lot in life, and instead would choose a free existence within the constraints ofegalitarianism. Beyond this veil, democracy has its Greek roots in demos the people and kratosrule (Christopher W. Blackwell, 2003). The FDA believes that democracy of and by the people Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 40
  41. 41. must entail political freedom within the bounds of political equality. Excessive political freedomwould likely lead to a plutocracy or rule of the rich, and excessive political equality would likelylead to communism.The FDA methodology has two main components: research and audit. The research component isqualitative, based on collecting relevant facts and data, and sourcing the information collectedusing APA guidelines. The audit process too is qualitative but also employs a quantitative aspect.The audit entails team analysis of research using matrices and the interpretation of the auditresults using scoring scales.Matrices:The FDA matrices are a detailed, spreadsheet scoring system of relevant data and information.The matrices scores conform to the concept of optimal democracy defined as a balance offreedom and equality. The purpose of the matrices is to objectify the audit process and helpcreate result reliability through an established structure of scoring. Relevance to the electoralprocess and the four audit sections inform the variables in the matrices. Individual matrix scoresare based on their positive or negative impact on the electoral process in terms of optimaldemocracy. To illustrate, the two sub-sections below were part of the matrices used in the Albertaelectoral fairness audit:Political Content of the Media, Matrix Section, for Alberta: Categories Measures Example or Rational Score Alternative ScaleFreedom of the Is the freedom of the If yes<4; if The score of 4 represents 4Media media (including no=0 the significance of media journalists) freedom within reasonable established through limits. The score of 0 constitutional or represents imbalanced, legislative law? one-sided political discourse in the media through unreasonable restrictions on media freedom.Impartial and During the campaign If yes=2; if The campaign period is the 0Balanced Political period is the media no=0; if most heightened period inCoverage (private and public) freedom of terms of voter awareness. required legally to media=0, then The media due to its mass publish/broadcast yes=0 influence has the means to impartial/balanced impact significantly Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 41
  42. 42. coverage of electoral discourse. The registered candidates requirement of balanced, and parties? impartial media coverage would prevent the media from being imbalanced and partisan.In this example, media freedom garnered significant weight (40 percent of the total score forpolitical content of media) and value in other sub-sections. (As an example, see the intersectionof column Example or Alternative Scale and row Impartial and Balanced Political Coverageabove.) Impartial and Balanced Political Coverage is weighted on grounds of the democraticimportance of a broad and balanced electoral discourse and a corresponding well-informedelectorate. As mentioned, a positive or negative impact on the electoral process determinesmatrix weightings and scores. According to the scores in the matrix example above, the FDAassumes that freedom of media has more impact on the electoral process than impartial andbalanced political coverage.The FDA matrices are comprised of four sections: electoral finance, political content of media,candidate and party influence, and voter influence (see Definition of Key Terms). Within thesesections, there are 52 variables (sub-sections), where 127 variables including sub-sections usedin more than one section comprise the overall matrix score. Within the electoral finance section,there are 19 sub-sections; within the political content of media section, there are 10 sub-sections;within the candidate and party influence section, there are 48 sub-sections; and within the voterinfluence section, there are 50 sub-sections.Weighting and Scoring:Overall, the soundness of reasons for scores and the relevancy of each area guides FDA grading.Since each audit section has a maximum and minimum score, sub-section scores are determinedbased on their relation to each other and their impact on optimal democracy as related to therelevant section. The FDA acknowledges that the determination of scores is an unavoidablequalitative step. The FDA minimizes the subjectivity of scores through required group consensuson their values.Each audit section has a score range between 0 and 10, and each section counts equally. Asmentioned, the FDA matrices allow, based on relevancy, sub-sections apply to multiple sections.For example, the sub-section electoral finance transparency is part of the electoral finance, voterinfluence and candidate and party influence sections. The FDA justifies multi-application ongrounds that electoral financial transparency significantly affects voters, candidates and parties.For example, electoral finances only transparent to a government will favour candidates andparties aligned with the ruling party and voters who support that government. In contrast,electoral finances transparent to the public will affect all voters, candidates, and parties equallyand help prevent electoral finance fraud and corruption. Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 42
  43. 43. As illustrated in the matrix example above, scores are based on the formula if yes=#, if no=#.The scale rests on yes and no answers. In the case of ambiguous answers, the FDA uses the lesserthan and greater than values (“<” and “>”). When these values are used, the FDA audit teamattempts to reach consensus on the score, and if that it is not possible, the FDA takes the mean ofthe individual scores, with each score having equal weight. Relevant and sound evidence, facts,and/or reasons, whether team or individual, must support audit scores. To enhance the reliabilityof audit results, the FDA has a group of experienced auditors. An audit team has a minimumquorum of five auditors and maximum of nine auditors. Any auditors in excess of nine act assilent observers. New auditors are introduced to the process first as observers, then asresearchers, and then as auditors within a team of experienced auditors.Audit Focus:The FDAs electoral fairness audit focuses on four areas of the Alberta electoral process before,during and after elections:1) Laws on electoral finance;2) Laws on political content of media;3) Laws on candidate and party influence; and4) Laws on voter influence.The FDA audits these four areas because they cover broad aspects of the electoral process. TheFDA acknowledges that electoral laws may not necessarily correspond to the implementation ofthose laws or the public’s response to them. The implementation and response could be positiveor negative, in terms of electoral fairness. Nevertheless, laws provide the foundation fordemocracy, framework for the electoral system, and an indication of electoral fairness. Aprovinces constitutional and/or electoral laws are part of the reality of its democracy. In the 2012general election, the FDA will conduct ground assessments of the Alberta provincial electoralsystem in tandem with its audit and analysis to determine the correlation between process andactualities. Following the 2012 Alberta general election the FDA will publish its report.FDA Audit Team and Associates: Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 43
  44. 44. FDA Researchers:Mr. Stephen Garvey, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, University of British Columbia andMaster of Philosophy in Environment and Development, University of Cambridge.Mr. Mark Schmidt, Bachelor of Science in Psychology, University of Calgary.FDA Electoral Fairness Audit Team:Chief Electoral Auditor:Mr. Stephen Garvey, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, University of British Columbia andMaster of Philosophy in Environment and Development, University of Cambridge.Electoral Auditors:Mr. Shane Donovan, 4th year Political Science, University of Calgary.Mr. Dale Monette, Bachelor of Commerce, University of Saskatchewan.Mr. Mark Schmidt, Bachelor of Science in Psychology, University of Calgary.Ms. Lindsay Tetlock, Master of Arts in Historical Studies, University of Calgary.Report Writer:Mr. Stephen Garvey, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, University of British Columbia andMaster of Philosophy in Environment and Development, University of Cambridge.Report Reviewers:Mr. Michael Fabris, Bachelor of Accounting, Brock University.Mr. Dale Monette, Bachelor of Commerce, University of Saskatchewan.Mr. Aurangzeb Qureshi, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, University of Alberta andBachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Kings College.Mr. Milton Ortega, PhD candidate in Public Administration and Policy, Portland StateUniversity.Mr. Mark Schmidt, Bachelor of Science in Psychology, University of Calgary.Ms. Lindsay Tetlock, Master of Arts in Historical Studies, University of Calgary.Mrs. Liza Valentine, Master of Architecture, University of Calgary.* Special thanks goes to Mr. Milton Ortega for his comprehensive review of draft reports, Mr.Mark Schmidt, Mrs. Liza Valentine, and Ms. Lindsay Tetlock for their thorough edit of drafts,and Mr. Michael Fabris for his help with the reports visual presentation. Foundation for Democratic Advancement / 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Alberta 44

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