The City of Calgary says it won’t create a voter list for candidates in a decision that appears aimed at protecting the privacy of voters.
The move comes after reports last week that a mayoral candidate, Kevin J. Johnston, was attempting to track down addresses of Alberta Health Services employees and threatening to show up at their homes armed.
In some previous municipal elections, a voter list that included names and addresses of every Calgarian eligible to vote, was provided to eligible candidates.
However, Calgary Police raised security concerns about voters’ information being given to all candidates.
CBC News reported last week that Johnston, who has a history of racist, hateful and allegedly violent behaviour and is attempting to publish the private information of AHS employees, was set to soon receive the voter information list in his capacity as an official candidate.
At the time, the city said it was working with its legal team regarding legislation that required a list of voters be provided to mayoral candidates, and Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he’d be speaking with city officials, looking at legislation to figure out what can be done to keep Calgarians safe.
Johnston is facing assault and hate crimes charges in B.C. and Ontario, and has made numerous posts online attempting to get the addresses of AHS employees.
He is also known for organizing, leading and speaking at protests against public health restrictions during the pandemic.
Calgary city council discussed the issue behind closed doors last week, and voted for staff to bring an update on what was discussed to the May 18 council meeting.
Residents afraid, says councillor
Counc. Jyoti Gondek, who is running for mayor in the upcoming election, said the decision to not create a list offers more confidentiality and safety of information for all Calgarians.
“What it means for candidates is that we’re in a situation right now. There’s no plan to generate a voter’s list. So everyone’s in the same boat,” she said.
Gondek said the city has never had to make this kind of decision before, but she feels this decision is the right one, given the circumstances.
She said residents have told her they are afraid.
“The conversations that I’ve had with residents, and the DMs and the texts that I’ve gotten from people have largely been ‘This individual has already targeted and if this person figures out where I live, I fear for my life,'” she said.
“It’s that real, and when I talk to members of the police service or people who work for AHS … everyone’s saying the same thing, ‘I took a stand against this individual and now I am a target.’ That’s frightening.”
Voters must provide ID, sign form
City solicitor Jill Floen said past elections had no voter list and it wasn’t an issue.
During this fall’s municipal election, Floen said voters arriving at polls will be required to validate their identify through different formers of identification and “they will be required to make a statement, indicating that they are who they are holding themselves out to be, that they’re entitled to vote and they’ll be required to sign a form.”