Calgary lawyer Kay Carter just wanted to renew her United Conservative Party (UCP) membership so she could vote in Premier Jason Kenney’s leadership review.
Two months later, her dogged attempts to do so have gotten her different cards, with different numbers, different addresses, and different expiry dates.
She tried to enlist the help of Calgary-Hays MLA Rick McIver, not her representative, but an acquaintance, and UCP Board President Cynthia Moore.
As of Thursday, Carter still didn’t have a card bearing the correct information.
“It’s just a mixed-up mess that is very confusing even for someone who deals with paper a lot,” said Carter, who specializes in corporate/commercial and tax law.
“There’s three cards, two UCP numbers, three addresses — an old non-existent one for my residence, my residence, and my office — two expiry dates, and a messy combination of all of the above,” said Carter.
Carter started what should have been a simple process on February 4 when she renewed her membership and registered to vote in Kenney’s leadership review at the special general meeting (SGM) originally planned to be held in-person in Red Deer on April 9.
Citing a surge of thousands of new memberships, the UCP changed the SGM to a virtual April 9 meeting with mail-in voting from April 9-May 11.
The results will be announced May 18.
Carter’s skeptical the UCP can carry off the “promised, unblemished, and perfect mail-in ballot.”
“I’ve spent so many hours on this,” said Carter who shared a trail of back-and-forth emails and copies of her membership cards with the Western Standard.
Carter’s original membership was due to expire the day of the SGM.
After purchasing a new membership February 4, she promptly received a thank-you email, then heard nothing.
Carter started getting “antsy” because she wanted to vote in the SGM. Originally, to be allowed to vote, a membership had to be purchased by March 19.
Emails sent got no response.
She sent a March 15 email to the Fish Creek UCP Board.
“I have not yet received my digital membership card, without which I cannot vote. I have phoned the UCP office three times and left messages. Nothing has happened, not even a return phone call. As you know, the deadline for being a member is March 19th, which is four days away,” she wrote.
“Can you please send me a digital membership card? If you cannot and the general office does not, do I have to commence legal action or something to get results?”
Carter noted provided her new address again.
She received a membership listing an April 9, 2022 expiry date, instead of April 9, 2023 and an incorrect address.
A replacement card still listed an April 9, 2022 expiry date.
She was issued yet another card — with the wrong address, her office address, and new number — that expires April 9, 2024.
“I do not understand how a one-year renewal could change the expiry date to 2024 from 2022. Being a senior who does math in her head for fun, that doesn’t compute. It should be 2023. I ran the math by my eight-year-old granddaughter. She said I was right,” said Carter.
On March 30 she sent another email to the UCP.
“It seems to me that somehow, I now have two UCP memberships, which is likely the result of the fact that the online membership portal does not distinguish between new memberships and renewals (or at least I didn’t find any distinction)” wrote Carter.
“Although the prospect of getting two ballots regarding the leadership review is somewhat enticing, it would be cheating.”
“So, I would greatly appreciate it if you would correct your records to show that I have only one membership UCP (she provided the number), with my residential address on it that expires on April 9, 2023, not 2024.”
“I confess that this string of errors has left me very dubious about the integrity of the upcoming mail-in voting. I’m not criticizing your office; I’m just saying that the last-minute changes to the leadership review voting are problematic at best,” wrote Carter.
Carter received an apologetic email from the UCP Thursday saying efforts were being made to “get your membership sorted out to reflect the correct expiration date.”
That was in response to a contact she made Tuesday asking for corrections.
“Given the membership office’s track record so far, changing my address would generate a fourth card. I apologize if the sound cranky or testy, but voting is, to me anyway, sacrosanct. Memberships are not rocket science,” she wrote.
“How does this make me feel confident that the upcoming voting won’t be a royal mess? Arguably, I’m now, on paper anyway, entitled to two or three ballots,” she wrote.
She’s been assured she holds one membership.
The Western Standard reached out to UCP spokesmen Dave Prisco for comment.
Prisco didn’t respond when asked if the UCP is experiencing glitches with memberships.
He offered to investigate the matter.
“Our team is here to help, but without knowing the name of the person, there’s no way to look into the matter and respond,” he wrote in an email.
Carter flatly declined the offer.
“No. I’ve already done that … so the hell with them.”
“It’s just insane. How they can possibly think they can hold a legitimate vote is absolutely friggin’ beyond me if they can’t get the membership straight.”
Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard
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