Old Law Makes Tweeting Election Results Illegal in Canada

Dennis Faas's picture

An old Canadian electoral law has now surfaced putting those who post voting results via social networking in trouble with police. Section 329 of the Elections Act in Canada states that anyone who transmits election results will be fined $25,000 dollars and could be sentenced to five years in jail.

The problem is that social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, are technically considered transmitting mediums.

Section 329 Not Completely Senseless

As it stands, section 329 is still on the books, but the law might not be as senseless as it appears.

A Canadian voter in Montreal, for example, could broadcast the election results in their area before the polls have closed on the west coast. Considering the time difference, a Canadian voter in Vancouver could be influenced to change their vote or not even bother visiting the polling station in light of the results. (Source: cnet.com)

What makes section 329 absurd is the fact that there is no punishment for those who communicate election results using other means.

For example, the previously mentioned voter in Montreal could legally pick up a phone and call the voter in Vancouver to inform them of the election results in their area. Posting such a message on Facebook or Twitter, however, turns communicating information into transmitting information. (Source: huffingtonpost.com)

Law Challenged in Vain

The law has been challenged a few times in the past. A Canadian blogger named Paul Bryan purposely broke the law back in 2000. After seven years, the Canadian court system fined him $1,000, along with seven years of legal costs.

This year, Canadian broadcasters CBC and CTV have attempted several times in vain to get the courts to nullify this law before the forthcoming federal election on May 2.

While it is unlikely that anyone would enforce this law, it would still be worthwhile for Canadians to keep electoral information to themselves on May 2.

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