Tweeting Results On Election Night Could Result In Hefty Fines In Canada

Physically the second largest country in the world, with ten provinces and three territories stretching across six time zones and touching three oceans, pulling off a national election in a country like Canada is no small feat in any respect. But one election law is making it that much tougher. 

The Canada Elections Act states that no results from any part of the country where the polls are closed should be broadcast or otherwise communicated to an area where polls are still open. This law ostensibly prevents people in the West from seeing the media declare the election results a done deal by 4 pm, thus prompting them to decide to either not vote or to change their vote based on more easterly results.

In order to comply with the law, on May 2, television stations will roll their election broadcasts west from Newfoundland to British Columbia as the polls close, and news websites will hold the election results until all voting is complete.  However, plenty of election watchers, including myself, will be discussing the results in real-time on Facebook, Twitter and other social media – which, as Elections Canada made clear yesterday, is against the law and could result in a whopping $25,000 CAD ($26,275 USD) fine.

The irony is that plenty of people are only engaged in this election *because* of social media. Tweets, liveblogs, up-to-the-second breaking news and the constant availability of someone to talk to about this party’s latest gaffe or that party’s latest announcement keep this ADD-filled generation engaged. So to tell this crowd that they can’t discuss election results as they happen through the media they’re accustomed to using is certainly counterintuitive in a country that’s been suffering from abysmally low voter turnout.

As would be expected, Twitter isn’t taking this lying down. There’s even talk of a Tweet-In on election night to flout the law and show Elections Canada exactly how useless this antiquated law has become in 2011.  As @denisgagnonjr said on Twitter, “Either we flood the system and [Elections Canada] gets overwhelmed, or we all get fined and end up paying for #elxn41. Win-win!”

Related Stories:

Tools to Help You Navigate the Canadian Election

From Government to Campaign Trail: Harper’s Control Tactics Continue

Can A Creationist Be A Good Minister Of Science?


Photo credit: ComputerMonger on Flickr


Jeanne M.
Jeanne M6 years ago

How are they going to know who tweets the results?
Will they monitor the entire country>

Michael MacDonald

I am horribly ashamed
we can't even say we're better than the states anymore.
We're worst than them now,
but don't be too quick to judge because all of the left wing parties have a vote splitting problem seeing a people are afraid of coalitions out here.
If we could have coalitions like you do
we wouldn't have this problem at all.
in fact, harper would have lost both the last 2 elections.
he's a minority government.
Him even being in power right now is completely anti-democratic seeing as we should have already have had a coalition by now.
It's complicated to say the least,
but when they only get 40% of the votes and the rest of our votes are split between the liberals and the NDP mostly..
you can't really blame the voters..
it's harper that made coalition a dirty word in canada.

Michael MacDonald

this is unbelievably anti-democratic
did harper pass this law, because I wouldn't be surprised.
we have a vote splitting problem between the liberals, the NDP, and the block in canada..
not only is it nearly impossible to win an election against the right wing while the left wing is divided between 3 parties..
but now it's apparently illegal to communicate with other canadians in order to actually strategically vote for the party with the most votes.
Harper is fear mongering over coalitions at the same time which is the part of our political system that is supposed to prevent vote splitting from being a problem.

I am sick and tired of this anti-democratic behavior.
Not only does this hinder any left wing persons ability to have a fair shot in this election, but it's also a huge violation of freedom of speech.

I am going to be writing everyone from the cbc to the governor general about this.
Mark my words,
if the people have anything to do with this..
we'll have this law destroyed within a year

Rita Flynn
Rita Odessa6 years ago

I wasn't going to tweet or check out twitter about the election, but since I have now been educated and do live on the West Coast I will keep my eyes open. Our country is a bit outdated in many things, this is obviously another example of this, and a shameful and stupid attempt at control.

Elaine H.
Past Member 6 years ago

It's shameful to suspect that Canadians are so dull minded that our votes could be swung by tweeters.

Stephen Amsel
Past Member 6 years ago

Hi Morgan,

If I recall correctly, there are normally observers from all sides as well as one from Elections Canada. However, those observers can be quarantined along with the actual counters. As for publishing results, while it is fundamental to democracy to have those results published after the final polls close so everyone can know who won, there is no reason they must be permitted to be published while the election is still ongoing.

I'm still not entirely convinced, given the nature of Canadian parties which are run top-down so the voter often votes for the party and not the candidate, that the Conservatives' past strategy was actually illegitimate. If the party is a major determinant in the vote, then candidates should be allowed to promote the party. If the party benefits from a candidate being well-funded, why should it be forbidden from funding that candidate's campaign (providing the finds used to promote the party)? That was the in-and-out scandal.

kurt klingbeil
kurt klingbeil6 years ago

I am sure canadians are clever enough to figure out means for safe-tweeting... and/or should foreigners be inclined to shape election results, is Canada prepared to create international incidents as it attempts to extend its rule of malfeasance beyond its borders?
Now this might not apply to Americans, since there is evidence that the Harperists are poised to dissolve Canada into the US should they win a majority

Susanne R.
Susanne R6 years ago

I hope our Canadian neighbors are able to rid themselves of Prime Minister Harper, his imperialistic style, and his conservative cronies.

Susan Campbell
Susan C6 years ago

Thinking further, since some more contested ridings are in the far west, if Conservative-supporters there heard their boys were getting kicked behinds to the east, they might be further motivated to last minute vote.

The last time, the Conservatives used fraud to manipulate electoral funds. If something similar (done more carefully) is happening this time, we may never know.

Sound Mind
Ronald E6 years ago

I don't tweet but this is obviously a Rethuglican/Nut-Job Conservative ploy to keep the electorate in the dark.