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Via Twitter, Democratic Reform Minister Tim Uppal has announced that the ban on reporting election results before all polls have closed will be rescinded.

The original purpose of the ban was to prevent Western Canadian voters from knowing results from the Atlantic Provinces before casting their ballots.  At the time, there was a four hour difference between the closing of the polls in Atlantic Canada and in British Columbia.  To address this gap, Parliament introduced staggered voting hours in 1996 which ensures that the outcome of any general election cannot be known before polls close anywhere in Canada. 

“We’re in the 21st century,” added Minister Uppal. “The ban, which was enacted in 1938, does not make sense with the widespread use of social media and other modern communications technology.”




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  1. Excellent.  Full stop.

    Always nice to have an excuse to compliment the government without any need for conditional clauses whatsoever.

    • Agreed.  Good job on this.

  2. Except shouldn’t we have had the discussion about bias, which is what prompted the regulations in the first place?

    If Atlantic Canada and Quebec sweep CPC, for instance, might that cause CPC voters out west to relax and not go to the polls while energizing Liberal/NDP supporters to get out there in droves? Such things could change the course of elections (especially once the new seats come into play).

    Of course, we don’t know if this will happen, but running forward willy-nilly without even apparently thinking about it should make us pause.

    Of course, one of the ways to deal with this is to alter our voting system so that results in one region don’t tell the whole story of that region until the national vote is in. So proportional voting of some sort, or the 308 vote (soon to be 338 vote) of allowing every citizen to vote for up to 308 candidates from across the nation.

    • 1. Running forward “willy-nilly”?
      We’ve had this debate for at least the last three general elections, and each time the side of maintaining the blackout has looked increasingly ridiculous.

      2. In the last election polls closed in the Eastern timezone at 9:30 PM. Polls closed in the Pacific time zone at 7:00 PM. So people in B.C had a whole 30 minutes (!!!) to get the results and get to their polling place with their knowledge. Or, I suppose, for the real keeners, just hang-out at the polling place until the last 30 minutes. For the Atlantic results they had an extra 60 mins, but Atlantic Canada has never decided an election.

      3. Further, your whole argument assumes a significant portion of the population in B.C is going to decide their vote on how the people in Ontario voted. Yeah, that sounds like all the people in B.C that I know.

      Its over. Technology has made this rule obsolete.

      • It’s not assuming anything. It’s asking whether there should have been any debate on this. If you could kindly point me to where the HoC has been debating this, I’ll happily retract my assertion.

        • I wouldn’t object to a debate, but I’d roll my eyes a bit if we actually had a debate, in 2012, about whether or not it should be illegal for someone in PEI to tweet the federal election results in their province before people in B.C. are finished voting.


    • If Atlantic Canada and Quebec sweep CPC, for instance, might that cause CPC voters out west to relax and not go to the polls while energizing Liberal/NDP supporters to get out there in droves? Such things could change the course of elections (especially once the new seats come into play).

      We can talk about bias, but my thinking about bias is largely WHO CARES?  Frankly, people are entitled to vote (or not) based on whatever reasoning they like, so to me, this isn’t really an issue.  I understand the argument that “this knowledge could theoretically change how people vote” but I think my reaction to that fact is largely “So what?”  To me, arguments in favour of the ban are essentially arguments that we need to use the force of law to keep certain knowledge hidden from voters lest that knowledge change their votes, whereas to my mind, hiding knowledge from the citizenry that might effect how they vote in an election isn’t a worthy goal, full stop.  

      • Fair comment all around.

        My concealed hope was that it’d be good to use this tie-in of bias to lend another argument to the reasoning for proportional voting of some sort, but I think you’ve effectively demolished it.

  3. The ban could always have been (and was) broken with a telephone between private parties.  Yes it is even easier now and early results can be more public, but new technology shouldn’t be the prime factor.

    • No, not more public. Public. Before they were disseminated privately. Now we’re going to see them on the news.  Before anybody in BC goes to the polls, they’re going to know what happened in Atlantic Canada unless they take specific steps to avoid it.

      • No. Not before anyone in B.C goes to the polls.
        People in B.C will get a 30 minute window of results from the Eastern time zone. That’s it.

        • Polls close in Newfoundland at 8:30pm Newfoundland time.
          That’s 4:00pm BC time — right when people get off work and are heading home/to the polls.

          • But, would people in BC really decide how to vote based on early results from Newfoundland and Labrador?

  4. Well thank goodness for that….stupid rule to begin with.

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