Update Election Laws


It’s not going to be high on the to-do list of the next government, but it’s time Canada’s election law got a 21st century upgrade.


Under current law, which was written in 1938, it is illegal to transmit election results until the last poll closes on the West Coast. Violators can be fined up to $25,000.


The intent of the law was to ensure that voting results from one part of the country did not influence results in a part of the country where the polls were still open. Elections Canada introduced staggered election hours some time ago, resulting in polls closing in the heavily populated Eastern time zone at the same time (9:30 p.m. EDT) as they do in Mountain Time (7:30 p.m. MDT). Still, there is a gap of two hours between the time the polls close in Atlantic Canada and closing time in the west, which gives ample time for Atlantic results to leak out. Maritime results, however, are unlikely to influence voting patters in western Canada.


Elections Canada now says it won’t monitor Twitter or Facebook, but will investigate complaints. That’s a reasonable reaction to an antiquated, now unworkable law. What worked in 1938, when radio was king, doesn’t work in a world of Twitter and Facebook.


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