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Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley in Calgary on May 12, and Leader of the United Conservative Party in Alberta Danielle Smith in Calgary on May 3.Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

Update: Danielle Smith’s UCP won a majority government after a tight race

Read more in our story from election night here.

Albertans are voting today in a provincial election that’s expected to be a tight race between Premier Danielle Smith and the governing United Conservative Party of Canada and Rachel Notley’s New Democratic Party. Polls close at 8 p.m. MT tonight.

The outcome of the election will likely be determined in Calgary, where voters are generally more moderate than those in rural parts of the province. Political observers expect the UCP to lose significant ground in Calgary’s 26 seats. But given the party’s hold on rural constituencies, the NDP would need to nearly sweep the city to form government.

For the latest updates and analysis on the election, follow the Globe’s live blog.

Here’s what you need to know about the UCP and NDP leaders, the party platforms and more.

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United Conservative Party leader Danielle Smith makes an election campaign announcement in Calgary, on May 1.Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

United Conservative Party

Danielle Smith

Age: 52

Who is she?

Ms. Smith is the former Wildrose Party leader who spent years as a talk-radio host before her political comeback in 2022. Ms. Smith became leader of the UCP after former premier Jason Kenney stepped down last spring over backlash from his caucus over COVID-19 restrictions. Ms. Smith was elected leader of the UCP in October, beating out six other candidates.

During the campaign, Ms. Smith has faced criticism for comments she made in a 2021 video in which she compared those who got the COVID-19 vaccine to people who supported tyrants, referencing Adolf Hitler.

Former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper urged Albertans to vote for Ms. Smith.

Danielle Smith is choosing her own adventure. Will Albertans follow?

Key promises:

Economy: Ms. Smith has promised to reduce personal income taxes by $760 a year for people making more than $60,000 annually, a measure she says would shave off about $1-billion in government revenue. The UCP would also extend the provincial fuel tax holiday to the end of 2023.

To help boost job growth and diversification, Ms. Smith pledged to introduce a non-refundable tax credit of between $3,000 and $10,000 for graduates who stay in Alberta, estimated to cost $50-million over four years. Additionally, her party will provide a $1,200 signing bonus for certain skilled workers as part of the Alberta is Calling campaign, forecast to cost $17-million yearly.

Health care: Ms. Smith has said that the UCP would not make Albertans pay out of pocket to see their family doctor or get medical treatment, and would not delist any public funding from future medical procedures or prescriptions. The UCP has also said it will lower surgical wait times by using chartered surgical centres and reduce ambulance bottlenecks through hiring and administrative reforms. The party intends to spend $158 million to help recruit and retain health staff.

Infrastructure: The UCP government is promising to spend $330 million to help build a new $1.2-billion arena complex in downtown Calgary.

Energy: The UCP platform contains no new promises when it comes to the province’s most important sector. Instead, the party points to its actions while in government, including saving money by transferring Alberta’s crude-by-rail program to the private sector, developing a road map for a hydrogen economy, and appointing an advisory panel to come up with a long-term vision for the province’s energy future.

The UCP has also said it would stretch the electricity grid’s net-zero transition to 2050. The federal government is preparing new clean-electricity regulations aimed at transitioning the country to a net-zero grid by 2035.

Crime: The UCP said it would add 100 more street-level police officers for high-crime locations in Edmonton and Calgary. The party said it would also allocate funding to clean up drug paraphernalia and help those dealing with mental health and addiction issues.

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Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley attends a campaign rally in Calgary, on May 11.Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

New Democratic Party

Rachel Notley

Age: 59

Who is she?

Rachel Notley ended a 43-year Progressive Conservative hold on power when she was elected premier in 2015. In this election, Ms. Notley is battling concerns about her last tenure, when spending and tax increases during low oil prices led to multibillion-dollar budget deficits and soaring taxpayer-supported debt.

Ms. Notley has been endorsed by former Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi, as well high-profile Alberta conservatives including former Progressive Conservative cabinet ministers.

NDP’s Rachel Notley has to woo the same Conservative voters who chose her rival

Key promises:

Economy: Ms. Notley has promised to not raise income taxes for four years and to freeze insurance rates. The NDP is adopting recommendations from an economist to use fixed formulas and rules to keep future spending in check while committing more money to long-term savings.

Health care: The NDP is promising large health-care recruitment and the creation of family health teams with physicians and related specialists, including nurses and mental health therapists, to ensure more Albertans have timely access to primary care.

Infrastructure: The NDP is promising to revitalize the Calgary downtown core with a $200-million post-secondary campus.

Energy: The NDP’s platform includes policies to expand the petrochemical sector, reduce energy project wait times and repeal the Sovereignty Act, introduced under UCP Leader Danielle Smith, who claimed it would allow the province to ignore some federal laws. The NDP also says it would not introduce a provincial retail carbon tax. Ms. Notley has also said she supports a shift to a net-zero grid, but has not detailed how she envisions it unfolding in Alberta.

Crime: The NDP is promising to restore funding cuts to municipal police forces due to the UCP taking a larger share of fine revenue. The party plans to address crime and its root causes by hiring 150 more officers and teaming them with social support staff, including mental health workers.

Education: Ms. Notley has pledged to hire thousands of public education workers in order to reduce class sizes. The NDP would hire 4,000 new teachers, 3,000 educational assistants and support staff by spending $400-million over four years.

Other: Ms. Notley said she would scrap Kananaskis park fees, promote economic diversification and restore rental supplements. She said the NDP would also pass legislation to protect the Canada Pension Plan.

What else you need to know about election day (May 29):

Who can vote?

Anyone who is 18 years or older, a Canadian citizen and a resident of Alberta is eligible to vote in the 2023 provincial election.

How do I vote?

Election day: Alberta residents can vote in person on election day (Monday, May 29) from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. MT at their assigned polling station, based on the location of their current residential address.

Advance voting: Advance voting takes place the week before election day, from Tuesday, May 23 through Saturday, May 27 between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. MT. While days and hours of operation may vary for some locations, every electoral division will have at least one location open for the full advance voting period.

Mail-in ballot: Electors that are unable to vote in-person, may vote by mail by applying for a special ballot. Requests for a special ballot to be mailed out can only be made until Monday, May 22 at 6 p.m. MT. In person and pick-up requests for a special ballot can be made until the close of voting on Election Day.

How do I register to vote?

Albertans can register to vote online through Elections Alberta’s website until May 17 or they may register by phone until 4 p.m. MT on May 20. They can also register in person at their local returning office between May 2 and 20, or by visiting any advance or election day voting locations.

What do I need to bring to the polling station?

To vote, you must prove your identity and current address. Acceptable ID includes a piece of government-issued photo ID, including your full name, current address, and photo, or two pieces of ID, both containing your full name, and with one showing your current physical address. If you don’t have an ID, another registered elector in your voting area can vouch for you.

More reading:

Kelly Cryderman: The ghost of Jason Kenney haunts Alberta’s tight provincial election

NDP’s Rachel Notley has to woo the same Conservative voters who chose her rival

Gary Mason: Another ugly mark on Danielle Smith’s record

With reports from Carrie Tait, Alanna Smith, Emma Graney and Canadian Press

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