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Amendments will fight disinformation, make elections more accessible

March 2, 2023 at 10:20 am  BC, News, Politics, Provincial


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Amendments to the Election Act respond to several of the chief electoral officer’s recommendations in their reports:

  • Digital Communications, Disinformation and Democracy (May 2020); and
  • Recommendations for Legislative Change (May 2022).

The proposed amendments that address recommendations in the report, Digital Communications, Disinformation and Democracy, include:

  • introducing restrictions on making false statements about objective biographical information about candidates, senior officials of political parties, or election officials with an intent to influence the election results;
    • This information would be constrained to objective biographical facts, such as whether the individual has been convicted of or charged with an offence, or an individual’s citizenship, place of birth, education, professional qualifications or membership in a group or association.
  • prohibiting dissemination of material that purports to be made, distributed, transmitted or published by or under the authority of the chief electoral officer, an election official, a candidate, a nomination contestant, a registered political party or registered constituency association;
  • introducing restrictions on spreading disinformation about the electoral process, such as disinformation about voting eligibility, dates, times and locations;
  • establishing specific criteria for what constitutes an independent third-party advertising sponsor;
  • providing the chief electoral officer with the regulatory authority to establish content and format standards for authorization statements (i.e., “taglines” required to be included on all election advertising);
  • requiring all digital platforms that publish election advertising to remove non-compliant content within 24 hours following notice by the chief electoral officer and establishing significant and meaningful fines for platforms that fail to remove that content; and
  • extending the definition of canvassing on a commercial basis to include the transmission of online messages.

Amendments based on the report, Recommendations for Legislative Change, include:

  • requiring voters to provide their date of birth on their voting-certification envelope to confirm their identity, instead of requiring a witness declaration;
  • authorizing the chief electoral officer to require identity verification requirements to streamline registering in conjunction with voting by mail;
  • allowing voters to return their mail-in voting package to any voting place and allowing the chief electoral officer to specify other dropoff locations, such as Service BC centres;
  • establishing a process to correct mistakes in vote-by-mail packages similar to the one established in the Electoral Reform Referendum 2018 Regulation;
  • allowing voters who record the name of a party leader to have their vote counted;
  • authorizing the chief electoral officer to conduct final count and recounts for ballots administered under the remote voting provisions of the Election Act;
  • extending the assistance and translation provisions to voters who vote at a district electoral office; and
  • exempting site-based voters, such as people living in residential care facilities, from proving their residential address when voting at that location. These voters would be required to present identification proving their name only.

If passed, the amendments will be implemented in time for the next scheduled provincial general election. 


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