Friday, May 17, 2024

Here’s how the proposed Election Act amendments in BC will impact the next vote


Every vote counts and every vote is important!

A proposed list of amendments to the Election Act in BC will aim to make voting easier, increase voting transparency, combat disinformation and strengthen rules regarding third-party advertising in politics. 

According to the United Nations, misinformation is wrong or inaccurate information whereas disinformation is information that is deliberately wrong or falsified.

The amendments that have been proposed are based on two separate reports with recommendations by the chief electoral officer in 2020 and 2022. 

If passed, BC residents will have easier access to vote in a world that is becoming increasingly digital. 

The proposed amendments are:

  • Restricting intentional lies about “objective biographical information about candidates and senior officials of political parties.” This could include disinformation about an individual’s citizenship, place of birth, education etc.
  • Cracking down on the spread of disinformation about election information on things such as voting eligibility, dates, times and locations
  • Improving the vote-by-mail process to make it more accessible
  • Establishing specific criteria for what constitutes a third-party advertising sponsor
  • Allowing the chief electoral officer to establish standardized ‘taglines’ which are to be included on advertising
  • Requiring all digital platforms to remove election advertisements with non-compliant content within 24 hours that may result in significant fines
  • Extending the definition of ‘canvassing’ on a commercial basis to include the sending of online messages
  • Requiring voters date-of-birth to confirm their identity rather than a witness declaration
  • Requiring identity verification to streamline voting by mail
  • Allowing voters to return their mail-in ballot to any voting place and allowing for more drop-off locations
  • Establishing a process to correct mistakes made on vote-by-mail packages
  • Allowing voters to simply write the name of the party leader on their ballot and have it counted
  • Authorizing the chief electoral officer to conduct final counts and recounts under remote voting provisions
  • Extending assistance and translation services to those who need it
  • Allowing for those in residential-care facilities to not prove their address when voting on site. 

“Maintaining the integrity of our elections is fundamental to our democracy,” said Niki Sharma, Attorney General. 

“With these changes, we’re building on our work to get big money out of politics, protecting our electoral process from the alarming increase in disinformation available online and ensuring online platforms do their part to support transparency throughout the electoral process.”

If the amendments are passed, they will be implemented in time for the next scheduled provincial general election which is currently scheduled for Saturday, October 19th, 2024.

Curtis Blandy

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