The writ has dropped, the legislature has been dissolved, and candidates have hit the hustings.
As that jargon-filled sentence suggests, B.C. election campaigns can be complicated things.
We’ve set out to clarify some of the rules and regulations of the campaign with some frequently asked questions to make sure you know what you need to in the lead up to the May 9 vote.
- Who Can Vote? Anyone who is a Canadian citizen, 18-years-old or older, and has been a B.C. resident for the last six months.
- Do I need to register? Yes. Advance registration closed Tuesday, but don’t worry – you can still register at your polling place.
- Do I need ID to vote? Not necessarily, but it is preferred. Voters without ID can have certain people vouch for them. However, the process is simpler with ID.
You can bring either one piece of government-issued photo ID that has both your name and address on it (Driver’s license, BCID card, or BC Services Card) or a Certificate of Indian Status.
Alternately, you can bring two pieces of ID or documents that both show your name, and one of which has your address. For example, you could bring a birth certificate and utility bill. For more detail, visit Elections BC.
- Where can I vote? In B.C. elections, voters do have assigned polling places but are permitted to vote at any convenient voting place. Votes cast at another polling place will be placed in a certification envelope and will be counted along with absentee ballots.
- Can I vote in advance? Yes. Advanced voting will be available 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on April 29 and 30, and May 3, 4, 5, and 6 at select polling places.
- Do I get time off from work to vote? Yes and no. You’re entitled to four consecutive hours free from work to vote during voting day, but that doesn’t necessarily mean time off from work. If you start work at noon, you’ve got four hours before your shift to vote.
READ MORE: B.C. election campaign officially begins
- Who can advertise? Candidates, parties and third parties are all allowed to advertise, but any third party must register with Elections BC.
- How much can they spend? Candidates can spend $77,674.62 and political parties can spend $4,882,404.95. Third parties are allowed to spend $3,328.91 in relation to a single electoral district and $166,445.62 overall.
- Do the advertisers have to identify themselves? Yes. Most election advertising must have an authorization statement, with the sponsor’s name, telephone number, and mailing address.
- How about online advertising? Online postings that didn’t cost anything (eg, social media posts) aren’t considered ads under the Elections Act. Paid postings that link to an authorization statement don’t have to have one in the ad itself.
- Can signs go up before the election? Yes, on private property.
- Can signs be put up on public land? Yes, election signs can be put up on public land like BC Highway right of ways. However, they can’t go up before the writ drops, they must belong to a registered organization, and they must be further from the road than official road signs.
- Can I put an election sign in my apartment window? Yes. Landlords can’t prohibit you from putting up a sign, but they can set reasonable limits on size.
- How about in a different riding? Yes, this is permitted.
- Where can’t I put up a sign? Signs are not allowed within 100 metres of a voting place or an electoral district office. Your municipality may also have its own restrictions.
- Do signs need to have authorization statements like other advertising? Yes.
- When does the leaders’ debate take place? A broadcast leaders debate produced by a consortium of media companies will take place on Wednesday, April 26 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. You can hear it live right here on CKNW, or watch it on Global TV.
- Who is participating? The leaders of the BC Liberals, BC NDP, and BC Green Party will participate.
- When is voting day? Election day is May 9, and voting places are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Can candidates advertise on voting day? No. Advertising on TV and radio, and in newspapers and magazines is not allowed on election day. New internet ads are not permitted on voting day, and existing ads may not be altered. Handing out pamphlets and fliers is allowed if it is more than 100 metres from a voting place.
- When will results be available? Elections BC officials begin counting votes as soon as polls close. The process generally takes a few hours, and can take much longer if the race is close in an electoral district.