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Today Canadians go to the polls, in fact, those in Eastern Canada, probably already have voted. And I am holding my breath. I will be checking the interwebs frequently today to find out as much information as I can but there is a 73-year old law in Canada that prevents the media from presenting early election results. Section 329 of the Canada Elections Act says that "no person shall transmit the results or purported result of the vote in an electoral district to the public or another electoral district before the close of all the polling stations in that other electoral district." This provision essentially means that if I lived in Western Canada I couldn't use the election results of Eastern Canada to influence how I would vote . This is because Eastern Canada's poll's (Newfoundland and Labrador) close 4 1/2 hrs ahead of Western Canada.
But because the provision was written prior to the invention of the internet and social media, it's unclear whether tweeting results is a transmission of results or simply communication between two individuals. You can be fined up to $25,000 for transmission of results, but communication between two individuals is not illegal. Is tweeting transmission? Elections Canada says it is considered transmission of results if anyone blogs, comments or tweets about the results using social media.
And yes someone was prosectuted. In 2000, a blogger named Paul C. Bryan was fined after posting election results from Atlantic Canada on his website. He contested the law as unconsitutional citing Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which protects freedom of expression. The law was ultimately upheld in a 5-4 vote by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2007 and he ended up paying a fine of $1000.
But the media blackout is really only 1/2hr (6:30-7pm). Not really sure how effective 1/2hr can be to the election results.
If you are Canadian and have a chance to vote, please make sure you make it count today, whatever color of stripes you wear.
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