Grit leader blames loss on Conservative wallet, election ‘irregularities’

« This was, as far as we could tell, the most badly run election that any of us could remember. »


Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft isn’t pointing blame at his campaign, even though the number of his party’s seats was nearly cut in half after Monday’s election.

Nor is he saying things went wrong for his party during the four weeks leading up to election day.

Instead, Taft says it was his party’s inability to keep up with the Tories’ wealthy campaign budget and a long list of "irregularities" with Elections Alberta that led to poor results for the provincial Liberals.

Taft says his party has strong evidence that some people voted in ridings where they didn’t live and staff shortages with Elections Alberta saw many voters travelling even farther to the polls during an election night that saw a record number of people choosing not to vote.

"This was, as far as we could tell, the most badly run election that any of us could remember," Taft said during a news conference yesterday. "That’s shameful in this province and it speaks to the need of having fixed elections in this province."

Taft says the Grits will be writing a letter to tell the election officials to investigate the long list of complaints.

Premier Ed Stelmach, still wearing the same smile yesterday as he did during his party’s major victory Monday night, says he is well aware of some problems during election night as some election workers didn’t show up for work.

"Given the fact that voter turnout was low, and given the issues with the (Elections Alberta) website collapsing, how are we going to prepare for a much larger turnout?" said Stelmach. "But, I am sure that’s the question the election committee will be asking the chief electoral officer."

Taft, meanwhile, says he has no plans to step down as party leader, but his leadership will be subjected to a party review in six to eight months.

"I take responsibility as a leader, but I felt we put together a good team… good platform," said Taft. "But, when the day is done, someone has to be accountable."

Asked what he would have done differently, Taft joked: "There was a tandoori chicken pizza in Calgary McCall I would have like to have eaten."

Taft also decried the timing of the election as the Grits struggled to find volunteers as "everyone works" in February.

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