Alberta election 2023: Ensure your voice is heard
Speak out on the pressing issues impacting people with developmental disabilities and their families.
There are three ways you can meet with candidates: by requesting a meeting, by attending an event (e.g., candidates forum), or by speaking to them when they knock at your door.
In the video above, family member Shawna Francis talks about a time when she met with her MLA to discuss issues that are important to her family. “It’s not as intimidating as it sounds, and it’s really about sharing your story about your loved one and helping our government representatives understand what’s important to us.”
Requesting a meeting:
Candidates are trying to meet with and secure support from as many voters as possible before election day. They are very busy now but may still be more ready and available to offer you a 20 minute meeting now than they will be after the election. Meeting directly provides you with the opportunity to establish a relationship with the candidate and to situate the policy issues you are discussing within the context of your story. If families, with their allies, were to meet with every candidate in the province, this would have a substantive impact. It will send the message that there is a significant number of Albertans (at least 20,000 families and then add all their connections) that will choose where to cast their votes based on the commitment of candidates and parties to the most important people in their lives – children and adults with developmental disabilities. We strongly recommend contacting candidates from all the major parties, not just one. Our campaign is non-partisan and we want to influence every party and as many candidates as possible.
- Identify which riding you live in by entering your address or postal code here (Elections Alberta)
- Find candidates running in your riding here (CBC.ca)
Read the profiles of candidates in your riding which are typically posted on their website or their party’s website to see if you have any points of connection to them or common interest. If you have trouble finding their contact information online, email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
Email addresses for NDP candidates can be built using the formula email@example.com. The formula for UCP candidates is not yet known.
Elections Alberta lists phone numbers for candidates.
Request a meeting by calling the candidate’s office, stating that you are a voter in their riding, and you are interested in discussing election issues of importance to children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families. Be courteous and non-partisan.
If you cannot find a phone number for the candidate, you can send an email similar to the following template:
Subject: Meeting with constituents to discuss issues of importance to people with developmental disabilities and their families [insert your postal code]
Dear [candidate first and last name],
We are a few [OR I am one] of the hundreds of voters in your riding who has an interest in children and adults with developmental disabilities. [You can write about who are you in a sentence here (e.g., a family member, person with a disability, a friend, an employer of an individual with developmental disabilities, a co-worker or colleague, a fellow student, a teacher, etc.)]. We are [OR I am] requesting a 20 minute meeting with you to tell you about our [OR my] experiences and the issues that the next provincial government needs to address to make life better for people with disabilities.
Please let me know when would be best for your schedule. Thank you,
[Names of individuals requesting the meeting] [Postal code of the first individual in the list] [Phone number of the first individual listed]
If you have not received a response within a few days call again and politely repeat your request. If no in-person meeting is offered, ask for an online meeting, or if there is an opportunity to meet the candidate at an event.
If possible, we suggest bringing one or two other supportive friends/family to the meeting. The more of us who share a common perspective, the more likely the candidates, and their parties will be clear on what needs to be done.
Attending an event
Candidates participate in or host many events where they are looking to meet with voters and hear from them. Attending a candidates forum provides you with the opportunity to publicly ask questions to multiple candidates.
In the video above, parent Dave Gunderson shares his family’s experience of meeting an MLA candidate at a local forum, and advocating for disability and inclusive education related issues that are important to them.
Whether you are attending a formal all-candidates forum or an informal meet-and-greet, meeting a candidate at an event can be a chance to present the issues, or make a personal connection and set up a time for a follow up conversation. To find out about events candidates are attending, check their websites and social media.
When a candidate knocks at your door
Candidates will be knocking on doors to meet voters. Prepare in advance so that if a candidate knocks on your door you can present the issues to them and ask for their commitment to take action. You can also ask a door knocking candidate to come in and sit down with you and if one of their supporters knock you can expressly state you’d like to meet the candidate directly.
Before the meeting
Your meeting will likely last no more than 20 minutes so it’s important to prepare what you will say and to coordinate with others attending the meeting with you. The two things it is important for you to share are your story and what you would like the candidate to do to improve the lives of children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families.
As noted above there are 5 issues we would like all parties and candidates to commit to addressing. From this list, select a few of the issues that you feel passionate about or that are relevant to your story and speak to those. Keeping the number of needed actions limited to 3 is more effective means of communicating priorities than a long list.
5 issue fact sheets for your use:
- PDD FSCD Fact Sheet Election 2023 (PDF)
- Inclusive Education Fact Sheet Election 2023 (PDF)
- Indigenous Disability Fact Sheet Election 2023 (PDF)
- Inclusive Housing Ending Institutionalization Fact Sheet Election 2023 (PDF)
- Income Security and Inclusive Employment Fact Sheet Election 2023 (PDF)
At the meeting
In the video above, parent Dave Gunderson shares his family’s experience meeting with their MLA, and highlights the power of developing a relationship with their MLA and MLA candidates.
Thank the candidate for meeting with you. Introduce yourself, mentioning your multiple roles in community. It’s important for candidates to understand that you have many roles as a contributing Albertan (e.g., employee, business owner, parent, volunteer, etc.), in addition to being someone with a developmental disability, a family member, or an ally. This demonstrates the range of your community connections and engagement. As part of your introduction if you are comfortable, show the candidate a photo of the person(s) with a developmental disability you care about, if they are not accompanying you in the meeting.
Focused and respectful conversation
Stick to your agenda. You may need to boldly redirect the conversation by saying “sorry, I would like to return to telling you about my concerns as a voter in your riding.” Any of the facts referenced are drawn from publicly available materials, so if challenged, simply remind the candidate the facts or figures you may be referencing are publicly available and they’re more than welcome to have their staff confirm the accuracy. Do expect the candidate to listen respectfully to the information you have to share. Do not expect the candidate to agree with you on all or any points or to commit to making immediate changes. Candidates often respond with talking points about other things their party is promising. Even if you are unsure whether your message got through, your raising the issues will impact the next government’s actions because the same conversations are happening with candidates across Alberta’s 87 ridings.
Before the meeting ends
Ask the candidate to share your concerns with their party’s campaign team and to email you detailing what actions they would take should they become the next government. Do not expect the candidate to promise any needed policy changes. Even if they are elected, they may not have a role in Cabinet with decision-making authority.
Take a photo of your group with the candidate. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can share it online. Post it on your own social media, too, using the hashtags #DisabilityInclusionVoteAB, #HaveTheConversationAB and #abvote.
Plan to leave time for the candidate to ask questions.
For more information or any assistance in meeting with your candidate please contact email@example.com
After the meeting
Make sure to send a thank you letter or email to each candidate you’ve met with. In your thank you message you can remind the candidate of the key requests you made in the meeting.
Please complete this quick online form to let us know when you met with any candidates, who attended and how the meeting went. If we know that every candidate, or close to it, has had a meeting with families, we are in a much better position to advance funding, policies and practices that will positively impact the lives of children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families on a daily basis.
If you’ve taken the time to meet with your MLA candidates, thank you! You may be wondering what more you can do.
- invite other individuals, families and allies to follow your example and meet with candidates
- inform your family, friends, neighbours, colleagues, and other people in your life about the issues that are most important for you to hear candidates and parties address
- attend all-candidate forums and raise questions publicly
- continue to #HaveTheConversationAB if/when candidates knock on your door campaigning
- share Inclusion Alberta’s election-related messaging on social media (find us here on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter). It’s even more impactful if you can share a little bit about how it affects you and/or your family personally. Using the hashtags #DisabilityInclusionVoteAB and #HaveTheConversationAB are helpful, too.
- Read Inclusion Alberta’s platform comparison of what commitments the parties have made that will improve the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families
- vote and ensure your family and friends vote too!
Be ready to vote:
- Visit Elections Alberta to learn about how you can Be Ready to Vote:
- Register to vote using your current address
- Get your “Where to Vote” card in the mail or by email
- Make a plan to vote and choose your preferred voting option
- Bring ID when you go to vote
- Learn how Elections Alberta makes voting accessible
Find out about barrier free access to voting places and returning offices, how multiple voting options are offered, and about the accessibility tools at voting places on Elections Alberta’s website here.
You can vote! webinar with Elections Alberta: check out the recording of May 4th webinar with Elections Alberta in the video below. This presentation will equip adults with disabilities to vote in the Alberta provincial election by explaining the voting process and available supports.
Who can vote:
To vote, you must be:
- A Canadian citizen
- 18+ years of age, and
- A resident of Alberta
Albertans who have a legal guardian have the right to cast their own vote. Learn more about who can vote.
How to vote:
If you need help marking the ballot you can bring a friend, family member, or support staff with you, or can ask for help from the Elections Alberta staff at the voting location.
Choose from four ways you may want to vote:
- Election Day – May 29 at your assigned voting location
- Advance Voting – May 23-27 at advance voting locations
- At a Returning Office – If you are unable to vote on Election Day or on advance voting days, you may vote at the returning office for your electoral division starting on May 1.
- By Mail – Electors choosing this voting option must apply in advance and declare their reason for voting by Special Ballot. Applications to vote by mail are now being accepted.
Questions & Answers
Can you explain to me what we are voting for in this election?
This two-minute video explains Alberta’s election process.
What if I need help when I vote?
You can bring someone you trust with you to help you vote. The person you choose must sign a declaration that they are there to assist the voter with a disability. Or you can ask one of the staff at the polling station to help you. This person can read you the names or help you mark your ballot.
Where do I vote on May 29, Election Day?
On Election Day you vote at a place called a “polling station”. The address of the polling station will be sent to you in the mail along with your voters’ card. Polling stations can be schools, town halls, or other places in your community where people gather. If you don’t get this information, call your Elections Alberta office, and ask them where to vote.
Who will be on the ballot that I can vote for?
In this election, people vote for the person they want to speak for them in the Government of Alberta. This person usually belongs to a “political party”.
Every political party has a Leader, but the Leader’s name is probably not on the ballot. The ballot only has the name of the local candidate in your area and the political party.
There are many political parties registered in Alberta, but only two of those parties run candidates in almost every riding. There are also many candidates running as an independent, which means they don’t belong to any political party. Phone Elections Alberta or visit their website to find out which parties have candidates in your riding.
If you want to know more about the candidates who are running for election in your community, visit their campaign offices or go to an all-candidates meeting. If you have access to the Internet, you can look up websites for each party. These websites will have information on each party’s platform. A platform talks about what the party believes and the things that they will do if they are elected.
(Voting Questions & Answers provided by Inclusion BC)