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Governance &
Structure Division
 

Election Offences

 

Election offences fall under two categories: general election offences committed under the Local Government Act (LGA), and campaign financing offences committed under the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act (LECFA).

 

General Election Offences and Penalties
General election offences refer to activities that contravene the LGA or Vancouver Charter (for elections in the City of Vancouver). These types of offences include vote-buying, intimidation, campaigning near a voting place on general voting day, providing or distributing false information, or contravening voting provisions.

 

Election offences under the LGA and Vancouver Charter are generally dealt with by the BC Supreme Court. Typically, these types of election offences are prosecuted after the police make a recommendation to Crown Counsel.

 

Individuals wishing to have charges laid in relation to an election offence are required to provide evidence to support their allegation. Both the LGA and LECFA provide that a person is not guilty of an election offence if they exercised due diligence to prevent the commission of the offence.

 

The following table summarizes general election offences described in the LGA and outlines the penalties associated with each offence.

 

Disclaimer: the information contained herein provides an overview

of election offences and should not be construed as legal advice. For

legal advice and before initiating proceedings with regard to election

offences, please consult legal counsel. 

 

GENERAL ELECTION OFFENCES AND PENALITES
(as per LGA s.154)

LGA Section

 

 

s.151

Offence:

Vote buying:
offering or accepting inducement for voting

 

Penalty:

  • Fines up to $10,000;
  • Imprisonment for up to 2 years;
  • Prohibition from holding office in a local government for up to 7 years.

s.152

Offence:

Intimidation:
using force or the threat of force to interfere with voting

 

Penalty:

  • Fines up to $10,000;
  • Imprisonment for up to 2 years;
  • Prohibition from holding office in a local government for up to 7 years.

s.152.1

 

Offence:

Conducting election advertising on general voting day (applies to radio, TV, newspaper or magazine advertising).

 

Penalty:

  • Fines up to $5,000;
  • Imprisonment for up to 1 year.

s.153

Offence:

Other election offences:

  • falsely withdrawing a candidate or an endorsement;
  • fraudulently voting;
  • interfering with ballots or ballot boxes;
  • canvassing, advertising or otherwise visibly supporting a candidate within 100 metres of a voting place on voting days;
  • contravening campaign finance rules;
  • conducting any other activity contrary to the LGA.

Penalty:

  • Fines up to $5,000;
  • Imprisonment for up to 1 year.

 

 

 

Campaign Financing Offences and Penalties
Campaign financing offences refer to contraventions of campaign financing rules under LECFA and the LGA. These types of offences can be committed by candidates, financial agents, elector organizations and third party sponsors of election advertising.  

 

Campaign financing offences include failure to: appoint a financial agent; open a campaign account; file a disclosure statement; and, comply with third party sponsorship rules for election advertising.

 

Elections BC is a non-partisan and independent Office of the Legislature that oversees and administers campaign financing and election advertising in local elections under LECFA. Elections BC also administers lists of disqualified candidates, elector organizations and third party sponsors that failed to file a disclosure statement or that were convicted of providing false or misleading information on a disclosure statement.

 

Penalties are typically determined and assigned by the BC Supreme Court; however, automatic penalties including disqualification penalties can be imposed without Supreme Court involvement. A candidate who failed to file a candidate disclosure statement or supplementary report with Elections BC by the filing deadline, and did not receive Court relief from the requirement to do so, is automatically disqualified from being nominated for, elected to or holding office anywhere in British Columbia until after the next general election.

 

The following table summarizes general election offences described in the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act and outlines the penalties associated with each offence.

 

Disclaimer: the information contained herein provides an overview

of campaign finacing offence and should not be construed as legal advice. For legal advice and before initiating proceedings with regard to election

offences, please consult legal counsel. 

 

CAMPAIGN FINANCING OFFENCES and PENALTIES

(as per LECFA s. 85 and 86)

LECFA Section

 

 

s.2.15

Offence:

Making prohibited campaign contributions:

  • anonymous contributions over $50;
  • contributions made to an unauthorized individual;
  • contributions  made without required information;
  • indirect contributions;
  • or contributions made with money/property/services of another individual or organization

Penalty:

  • For individuals, fines of up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment for up to one year;
  • For organizations, fines of up to $10,000.

s.216/217

Offence:

Accepting prohibited campaign contributions and/or failing to record specified information about campaign contributions and contributors

 

Penalty:

  • For individuals, fines of up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment for up to one year;
  • For organizations, fines of up to $10,000.

s.3.02/ 4.02/ 6.14

Offence:

Failure to file campaign financing disclosure statements

 

Penalty:

  • For individuals, disqualification until after next general local election from being nominated for, elected to, or holding office on a local authority, fines up to $10,000, and/or imprisonment for up to two years. (A candidate declared elected also loses their seat, and the seat then becomes vacant);
  • For elector organizations, prohibition from endorsing candidates, accepting campaign contributions/incurring election expenses until after the next general local election, and/or fines up to $20,000;
  • For third party sponsors, prohibition from sponsoring third party advertising or assent voting advertising, accepting sponsorship contributions until after the next general local election, fines up to $10,000 for individuals and/or imprisonment for up to two years or fines of up to $20,000 for organizations.

s.3.06/ 4.06/ 6.18

Offence:
Failure to file supplementary disclosure statements

 

Penalty:

  • For individuals, disqualification until after next general local election from being nominated for, elected to, or holding office on a local authority, fines up to $10,000, and/or imprisonment for up to two years. (A candidate declared elected also loses their seat, and the seat then becomes vacant);
  • For elector organizations, prohibition from endorsing candidates, accepting campaign contributions/incurring election expenses until after the next general local election, and/or fines up to $20,000;
  • For third party sponsors, prohibition from sponsoring third party advertising or assent voting advertising, accepting sponsorship contributions until after the next general local election, fines up to $10,000 for individuals and/or imprisonment for up to two years or fines of up to $20,000 for organizations.

s.5.01

Offence:

Failing to publish sponsorship information in advertising

 

Penalty:

  • For individuals, fines of up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment for up to one year;
  • For organizations, fines of up to $10,000.

s.5.02

Offence:

Indirectly sponsoring election advertising

 

Penalty:

  • For individuals, fines of up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment for up to one year;
  • For organizations, fines of up to $10,000.

s.6.03

Offence:

Making prohibited sponsorship contributions:

  • anonymous contributions over $50;
  • contributions  made without required information;
  • indirect contributions;
  • or contributions made with money/property/services of another individual or organization.

Penalty:

  • For individuals, fines of up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment for up to one year;
  • For organizations, fines of up to $10,000.

s.6.07

Offence:

Sponsoring third party advertising without registering as a third party sponsor with Elections BC.

 

Penalty:

  • For individuals, fines of up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment for up to one year;
  • For organizations, fines of up to $10,000.

s9.13

Offence:

Filing and/or providing false or misleading information

 

Penalty:

  • For individuals, disqualification until after next general local election from being nominated for, elected to, or holding office on a local authority, fines up to $10,000, and/or imprisonment for up to two years. (A candidate declared elected also loses their seat, and the seat then becomes vacant);
  • For elector organizations, prohibition from endorsing candidates, accepting campaign contributions/incurring election expenses until after the next general local election, and/or fines up to $20,000;
  • For third party sponsors, prohibition from sponsoring third party advertising or assent voting advertising, accepting sponsorship contributions until after next general local election, fines up to $10,000 for individuals and/or imprisonment for up to two years or fines of up to or $20,000 for organizations.

 

 

For legislative questions about municipal, regional district or trust area elections please contact the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development:

Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development
Advisory Services
PO Box 9839 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC V8W 9R1
Telephone: 250 387-4020
Fax: 250 387-7972
Advisory Staff Contact Information

For questions about election advertising, third party sponsors and campaign financing rules please contact Elections BC:

Elections BC
In Victoria call: 250 387-5305
Elsewhere in B.C. call: 1 855 952-0280
Email address: electoral.finance@elections.bc.ca www.elections.bc.ca

 

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