Who administers local elections in BC?

Unlike provincial elections, local government elections in B.C. are not run by one single entity. Elections BC is one of several authorities that play a role in local general elections, by-elections and assent voting.

Area of administrationWho is responsible
Voting and ballots Local Chief Election Officers
Nomination process Local Chief Election Officers
Advertising rules Elections BC
Campaign financing and disclosure rules Elections BC
Registration of elector organizations Elections BC
School trustees/school board elections Ministry of Education
Legislation for local elections Ministry of Municipal Affairs
 What do local Chief Election Officers do?

Each jurisdiction in B.C. appoints a local Chief Election Officer to run local elections and assent voting in that jurisdiction.

For Boards of Education elections, contact the secretary treasurer’s office in your local school district.

Can I vote on the Internet or by phone?

No. You may not cast your ballot over the Internet or by telephone.

How do I register to vote?

The NRRM uses same day voter registration, where you register at a voting place at the time of voting. You must provide identification that proves your identity and where you live – one piece of identification must include your signature.

Do non-resident property owners register the same way?

Yes. You must provide identification that proves your identity and where you live – one piece of identification must include your signature. You must also provide the address or legal description and the title (or other proof of ownership) for the property you own.

You must also demonstrate that you have the written consent of the majority of all owners to vote as the non-resident property elector when you own
a property with another person(s). Contact the Ddeputy/
Chief Election Officer where you own property for more information about voter registration procedures.

I have doubts about a person’s nomination/voter eligibility, however, they believe they are eligible.  What do I need to do to resolve this?

The right to vote or be a candidate is a basic right. If the Chief Election Officer doubts a person’s eligibility, a person may be required to sign a statutory declaration confirming their eligibility. This document, sworn before the Chief Election Officer or a Commissioner for Oaths, has the same weight as an oath sworn before a Judge. Accordingly, a false declaration can result in criminal charges.

Is a person eligible to vote when they are away to school or out for medical treatment? And if eligible how can they vote?

A municipality may, by bylaw, provide voting alternatives to the means of voting, voting may be undertaken by mail-in ballot. The person who is eligible to vote and away for school or out for medical purposes should contact their local authority to determine the procedures to vote.

Students may choose to vote either where they attend school or their usual place of residence.

I own a property with someone else, and neither of us live on the property – can both of us vote?

No. Only one non-resident property elector may vote per property. When you own a property with another person(s), the majority of owners must designate – in writing – one owner to vote as the non-resident property elector for that property. No one is eligible to vote in relation to property owned through, or in conjunction with, a corporation.

I own more than one property - can I vote more than once?

You may vote only once as a non-resident property elector when you own two or more properties within one jurisdiction. You may vote in multiple jurisdictions when you have owned property within each jurisdiction for at least 30 days before registering to vote.

I own property in BC and I live in a different province or country - can I vote?

No. You must be a resident of British Columbia for at least six months before you register to vote.

I live in one jurisdiction and I own property in another – can I vote in both jurisdictions?

Yes. You may vote in the jurisdiction where you live when you qualify as a resident elector. You are also eligible to vote as a non-resident property elector in another jurisdiction when you have owned the property in the other jurisdiction for at least 30 days before registering to vote on General Voting Day.

I heard that a voter needs to produce photographic identification to vote. Is this true?

Not necessarily. Election Officials have to be confident that persons receiving a ballot are eligible voters. If they know that a voter is the person they claim to be, then Election Officials do not require any further proof. If they do not know the voter, the voter may produce some identification acceptable to the Election Officials or failing that, get someone who is trusted by the Election Officials to vouch for the voter’s identity. Failing that, a voter can provide a statutory declaration.

A number of people have asked me who can be at the voting station while the vote is being counted.

All sworn election officials, the candidates or in their place, their scrutineer or agent, are permitted to be at the vote count. Ordinary citizens and the media are not permitted to be at the count (or the recount).

Can a voter vote for less than the number of vacancies? Is such a ballot spoiled?

A voter does not have to vote for all of the seats available and the ballot is not spoiled. Voting for more than the number of vacancies does result in a spoiled ballot.

Can a spouse or family member assist a blind family member to vote?

Yes, a person authorized by the Deputy/Chief Election Officer may assist a voter who is blind, unable to read or understand the ballot, or otherwise disabled to such an extent that it prevents the person from casting a ballot, may have a person assist him or her in cashing his or her ballot.

What if I need assistance to vote?

All jurisdictions are required to make voting places as accessible as reasonably possible. You may:

  • ask an election official to bring you a ballot if you can travel to a voting place and find it difficult to get into the building or room where voting is taking place (this is called “curb-side” voting);
  • ask an election official, friend or relative to help you if you are unable to mark your own ballot; or,
  • bring someone to assist you if you need a translator. The translator must be capable of making a solemn declaration that they can and will make the translation to the best of their ability.

After the automatic recount, there was still a tie vote between two candidates for the last seat on the council and a name was drawn to determine the winner. A lot of voters thought this was a bad way to make this decision. What other option is there?

In municipalities that have adopted an elections bylaw stating that tie votes must go to a run-off election, you do not draw a name. The Northern Rockies Regional Municipality Election Procedures Bylaw states that

12. Resolution of Tie Votes After Judicial Recount
In the event of a tie vote after a judicial recount, the tie vote will be resolved by conducting a lot in accordance with Section 151 of the Local Government Act.

What legislation governs local elections in BC?
  • Local Elections Campaign Financing Act (LECFA)
  • Local Government Act
  • School Act
  • Vancouver Charter
  • Community Charter

The provincial Election Act does not apply to local elections in B.C.

 Are there restrictions on who can make a campaign contribution in local elections in BC, or limits on how much?
 Yes. To make a campaign contribution to a candidate or elector organization, you must be a resident of B.C. and either a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Contributions from corporations, organizations and unions are prohibited. There are also limits on campaign contributions. See Elections BC Making a Campaign Contribution page for details.

Are there restrictions on who can make a sponsorship contribution in local elections and assent voting in BC, or limits on how much?

Yes. To make a sponsorship contribution to an advertising sponsor, you must be a resident of BC and either a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Contributions from corporations, organizations and unions are prohibited. There are also limits on sponsorship contributions. See Elections BC Making a Sponsorship Contribution page for details.

Is there an expense limit for local election candidates and elector organizations?

Yes. Expense limits apply during the campaign period as follows:

  • In communities with a population of fewer than 10,000 people, the expense limit is $10,000 for mayoral candidates and $5,000 for all other candidates.

See Elections BC Candidate Expense Limits page for more details.

Where can I find financial reports for local elections?

You can find scanned images of all disclosure statements and financial reports filed with Elections BC in Financial Reports and Political Contributions System (FRPC). You can also search for campaign contributions to local candidates and elector organizations.

All candidates, elector organizations, and advertising sponsors must file a disclosure statement with Elections BC.

Disclosure statements show the financial transactions for a campaign, including contributions and expenses. The deadline for filing a disclosure statement is 90 days after General Voting Day, but there is also a late filing deadline 120 days after General Voting Day. Filers must pay a $500 fee for late statements to be accepted.

Registered elector organizations must also file annual financial reports with Elections BC by March 31 of each year. Annual financial reports disclose all financial activity of an elector organization from the previous year.

What election advertising must include an authorization statement?

The following advertising must include an authorization statement:

  • election signs
  • newspaper, radio and television ads
  • pamphlets, posters and brochures
  • automated dialer calls (e.g., robo-calls)
  • online ads (e.g., social media ads and boosted content, pop-ups, pay-per-click, pre-roll videos and banner ads)
  • canvassing conducted on a commercial basis in person, by telephone or on the internet

Note: If clicking on an online ad takes the viewer to a page with the authorization statement, the statement does not need to be included in the ad itself.

 What election advertising does NOT require an authorization statement?

The following advertising does not need to include an authorization statement:

  • clothing (e.g., shirts, vests)
  • novelty items (e.g., pens, mugs, buttons)
  • small items of nominal value intended for personal use (e.g., business cards)
  • free social media posts (which are not considered advertising)
 Where can election signs be placed and where are they prohibited?

 Election signs cannot be placed within 100 metres of a voting place during voting. Questions about this rule should be directed to Local Chief Election Officers.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure also has an election signs policy. Contact your local district transportation manager for more information.

Can candidates, elector organizations, advertising sponsors and members of the public use social media on General Voting Day?

 Yes. They can use free social media to post messages to their friends and followers. However, they are not allowed to conduct any online advertising that has a placement cost, such as sponsored Facebook posts, pop-up, pay-per-click and banner ads.
 What are candidates, elector organizations and advertising sponsors allowed to do on General Voting Day?
  • live person-to-person telephone calls*
  • door-to-door canvassing*
  • handing out brochures
  • free social media use
  • placing election or advertising signs or posters
  • “mainstreeting” and “sign-and-wave”
  • advertising with placement costs on the internet for the sole purpose of encouraging voters to vote in the election

However, these activities must not take place within 100 metres of a voting place.

* These activities cannot be done on a commercial basis on General Voting Day.

What are candidates, elector organizations and advertising sponsors NOT allowed to do on General Voting Day?
  • sponsor newspaper, television, radio advertising, or internet ads that will run on General Voting Day
  • use automated dialers (e.g., robo-calls) to promote candidates and/or elector organizations
  • canvass voters on a commercial basis in person, by telephone or over the internet
  • conduct paid social media advertising
I have heard that candidates are not allowed to campaign on Election Day or on the Advance Voting Day. What are the restrictions on campaigning during these days?
 Candidates can campaign at any time. This may be different from Federal and Provincial elections. The only rule that restricts campaigning on these days has to do with the placement of campaign materials such as posters, signs, buttons, pamphlets, etc. None of these can be within 25 metres of the voting station. Voters have to remember to take off their campaign buttons when they go to vote. While a vehicle may have a campaign poster on it and while a candidate may offer rides to the voting station in that same vehicle, the vehicle is not to be parked near the voting station.
What are media NOT allowed to do on General Voting Day? 
 Media cannot publish any election advertising via newspaper, radio or television, and cannot publish new election advertising on the internet. Advertising on the internet before General Voting Day can remain but must not be changed in any way.

What can media print or air on General Voting Day? Can they interview candidates or run stories about candidates?

Media may publish, without charge, news, editorials, interviews, columns, letters, debates, speeches or commentaries within their bona fide publications, television programs and radio shows. This includes interviews and stories about candidates.

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