VoteKit 1.0: The Wrap Up

10 Dec 2013

By Michael Ireton |

The campaigns are over, the lawn signs have disappeared like the leaves from the trees, and the 2013 municipal election in Calgary is in the history books. It’s hard to believe more than a month has passed since the election! What used to be “Aldermen” are now “Councillors”–and there are 4 new ones on Calgary City Council. They join 10 incumbent Councillors who were re-elected, as well as Mayor Naheed Nenshi. Along with the name change from Alderman to Councillor, the other significant new thing for the city’s elected representatives is that they will serve for 4 years. (Municipal representatives used to be elected every 3 years in Alberta, but that was changed in 2012). There was one particularly close race, which went to a recount. It was ultimately decided by just 86 votes!

Official turnout for the election was 39.43%. That’s a bit lower than the 53.39% turnout in the 2010 election, but it’s also higher than usual for a municipal election in Calgary with an incumbent mayor–and we think that’s a good thing. If you voted, good for you! If you didn’t, that’s OK, too. Maybe you will next time. Let us know why you did or didn’t–we’d love to hear from you one way or the other.

We have no way of knowing or directly measuring how much impact VoteKit had on informing Calgarians about what City Council and individual Councillors do, explaining and demonstrating how to go about casting a ballot, encouraging people to vote, and ultimately the overall voter turnout. We do know that we think voting during elections and participating in civic life between elections are incredibly important, that we had a lot of fun doing the Vote Kit project, and that we hope some people found it informative or helpful!

In fact, we had so much fun (and believe enough our own words that it’s important to stay involved between elections!) that we’ve decided to keep Vote Kit going. Call it VoteKit 2.0. Details about that will be coming soon, and we’ll be spreading the word far and wide when we’ve worked out our plans. We’re still not entirely sure ourselves exactly what VoteKit 2.0 will be, but it will definitely continue our completely non-partisan focus on informing citizens about municipal (and perhaps provincial and federal?) governance, how government works and what it does, and how you can be an informed and engaged citizen. If you’d like to get involved, please get in touch–we’d love to hear your ideas!

Meanwhile, if you want to stay informed about Calgary City Council, did you know you can watch webcasts of Council and (some) Committee meetings? And getting in touch with your Councillor is as easy as filling out this form and clicking the “submit” button!

Until the launch of VoteKit 2.0, we want to say a huge “Thank You!” to First Calgary Financial for their generous financial support of VoteKit, and an equally huge “Thank You!” to  Good Company for their amazing work on our website and participation with VoteKit.

We also send our thanks and best wishes to all of the people in Calgary and around Alberta who stood for election to municipal councils as well as public and Catholic school boards. Public service is challenging, demanding, and often thankless work, but it is incredibly important work on behalf of each and every one of us. We’re sure each elected official will do their utmost to serve the best interests of every person they represent.

Finally, we wish you and yours peace and joy for the holiday season and all the best for 2014. Look for VoteKit 2.0 in the new year!

 

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