Five populations. 20+ public engagement sessions. 20+ What We Heard Reports. Recommendations to improve the municipal voting system.
Insight: Recognizing that there are valid public concerns and opportunities to do better underlie many progressive municipal projects. Clearly identifying and involving affected citizens helps to identify thoughtful and innovative solutions that will make the biggest difference to those impacted.
During and following Edmonton’s 2013 municipal election, Edmonton Elections heard that some of its recent changes and long-standing practices were acting as barriers to citizen participation in the voting process. With a mandate to deliver all logistics leading up to and during the municipal election process, it wanted to learn more about the voting experience and perceptions of five populations – people who identify as youth, senior, Aboriginal, a new Canadian, and/or a person with disabilities. Emerge Solutions was invited to design and implement its engagement approach, report on the findings, and, based on the findings, share insights on potential recommendations to improve the voting system with Edmonton Election’s Returning Officer.
Over eight months, Emerge Solutions developed a comprehensive, multi-stage, multi-stakeholder engagement plan. We created an online survey to better understand the key barriers affecting the five target populations and followed this with 22 in-person consultations, ensuring a minimum of four sessions per target population, to validate the survey findings and collaborate with the target populations to identify effective, realistic, and highly desired solutions to the barriers they experience.
We developed and provided a “What We Heard” report to the City of Edmonton and participating stakeholders at the conclusion of both the survey and each in-person conversation. We also analyzed the key themes emerging through all of the public consultation and developed a comprehensive What We Heard report on understanding voter needs. This report provided key insights overall and by population, as well as the survey results and verbatim comments from the in-person consultations.
As a result of our strength in content development and analysis, we also provided Edmonton Elections with suggestions on quick wins, possible mid-term solutions, and long-term opportunities to mitigate or eliminate barriers present in the municipal voting system.