Airdrie-Cochrane MLA Peter Guthrie says the United Conservative Party (UCP) should discard the mail-in vote on Jason Kenney's leadership and instead proceed directly to a leadership race.

Guthrie says the integrity of the voting process has completely disintegrated and has divided the party's membership.

"It has changed so many times," says Guthrie. "It has gone against what the members of the party wish, what the constituency associations would like to see, and for that reason, trust in the system has evaporated."

Currently, UCP members are casting ballots by mail to determine whether or not they want to keep Kenney as party leader. Voting closes on May 11 and results are expected to be announced on May 18.

Kenney needs to get more than 50 per cent of the vote to continue. No matter how the vote ends, Guthrie says there remains the possibility of legal action following. That, says Guthrie, could mean a leadership race will never take place, and the party will limp into the May 2023 election as a not so united conservative voice.

He believes a leadership race will help reinvigorate the party in time to square off against the Alberta NDP.

"That's the fear, I think," says Guthrie. "We need to be a unified party to take on the NDP in the next election."

"A leadership race opens up the opportunity for the whole party to have their say, and also to generate interest in the party. A leadership race is an opportunity to have a mini-election ahead of the election to get people in the province excited about the conservative movement."

It also typically increases membership and generates donations.

Guthrie says the UCP doesn't have a process in place to go directly to a leadership race without a confidence vote, but he doesn't see this as a problem.

He says the executive has been making random changes leading up to the leadership vote, and choosing to go straight into a race would be no different.

In March, the UCP executive scrapped an in-person leadership vote in Red Deer originally scheduled for Apr. 9 and opted for a mail-in vote.