Proposed amendments to the Election Act will make it easier for voters in B.C. to cast their ballots, while continuing to combat disinformation, increase transparency and strengthen third-party advertising rules in the provincial electoral process.
The amendments respond to recommendations made by the independent chief electoral officer in the 2020 report Digital Communications, Disinformation and Democracy, and the 2022 report Recommendations for Legislative Change.
If passed, the amendments will support the ongoing work of Elections BC to maintain fair and impartial electoral processes in B.C. in an increasingly digital world.
“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.”
The proposed amendments include:
- placing restrictions on intentionally making false statements about objective biographical information about candidates and senior officials of political parties;
- cracking down on the spread of deliberate disinformation about the electoral process, such as including disinformation about voting eligibility, dates, times and locations; and
- streamlining the vote-by-mail process to make it more accessible for people.
The amendments will authorize the chief electoral officer to require all digital platforms that publish election advertising to remove non-compliant content within a specified timeframe. Platforms that fail to remove non-compliant content may also face significant and meaningful fines.
Although mail-in voting has been an option for more than 30 years in B.C., the 2020 provincial general election was the first election in which more voters voted at advance voting or by mail than on general voting day.
The proposed amendments complement extensive amendments made to the Election Act in 2019 to implement voting modernization and in 2017 to amend campaign financing rules.
For more information about provincial elections in B.C.: https://elections.bc.ca/
To view the 2022 Report of the Chief Electoral Officer on Recommendations for Legislative Change:
To view the 2020 Report of the Chief Electoral Officer on Digital Communications, Disinformation and Democracy:
A backgrounder follows.