Andrew Bates

electric newspaperman

Vancouver-West End candidates couldn’t stop tweeting on election day

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This screenshot was taken at 12:30 p.m.

This screenshot was taken at 12:30 p.m.

It’s now election day, and all the politicos are buzzing on Twitter — including the ones that shouldn’t.

Liberal candidate Scott Harrison and Spencer Chandra Herbert have been updating their Twitter and Facebook accounts today, in contravention of Elections BC rules against candidates posting on election day.

Harrison was tweeting and facebooking multiple times today from 6:00 a.m. to noon, ranging from simple get-out-the-vote messages to promotion of editorials and criticisms of NDP leader Adrian Dix. Chandra Herbert also posted a get-out-the-vote message at 6:30 a.m. (I’ve inserted screenshots at the top and bottom.)

According to Elections BC communications manager Don Main, candidates cannot tweet or post to Facebook on election day, which starts at midnight. Main said that Elections BC would be contacting the parties, who would contact individual campaigns.

I dropped lines to both campaigns. A staffer with the Chandra Herbert campaign said the campaign had been told by Elections BC that the ban extended only to voting hours, which last from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Scott Harrison replied to me directly, saying this:

Andrew,

This afternoon the BC Liberal Party has received official notice from Elections BC that Candidates could not post on social media today. I was informed of this and as soon as I was able I stopped my scheduled posts & deleted my earlier posts.

I thought social media posts(unpaid posts) would be the same as campaigning on the street at least 100 metres away from a polling station. However, that is not the case as of now. Therefore, I have complied with Elections BC’s request.

Regards,
Scott Harrison

PS – I would have tweeted this back to you but that would have violated their instructions. :)

Sometimes, a line can be drawn between straight-up campaigning and non-promotional get-out-the-vote messages. But Main said that anything from a candidate’s social media account, with its picture and information, counts as “promoting or opposing” a candidate, the language used in the Elections Act to define elections advertising.

According to the Act, paid promotion in a periodical or a radio or television program does not count as advertising. Neither do Internet postings that reflect personal political views, which is probably how non-candidates get away with it.

Elections Act section 233 prevents elections advertising on general voting day, which would seem to include the whole day and not just the voting period. It does, however, allow Internet postings made before election day and not changed until the end of balloting, so that’s why the twitter accounts and websites are still up in the first place.

In any case, all of the tweets have been pulled down. Green party candidate Jodie Emery and independent Ron Herbert have not made any posts on election day.

I’m covering the Vancouver-West End riding in the 2013 B.C. provincial election for the Vancouver Courier. Check my twitter account for live updates and vancourier.com for stories.