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Proposed amendments to Election Act aim to make elections more accessible, reduce spread of disinformation

Several amendments have been proposed to BC’s Elections Act, with the intention of making it easier for voters to cast their ballots.

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.

“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 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 responding to the Recommendations for Legislative Change report 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.

The proposed amendments responding to the report Digital Communications, Disinformation and Democracy report 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

According to the province, these amendments will be implemented in time for the next scheduled provincial general election if passed.

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