What We Do
Elections BC administers provincial general elections and by-elections, recall petitions, initiative petitions and initiative votes, the conduct of referenda and plebiscites, and local elections and assent voting campaign financing and advertising rules. By doing so in a fair and impartial way, Elections BC makes sure that British Columbians have full access to their democratic rights.
Elections BC’s mandate comes from several Acts, including the Election Act, Recall and Initiative Act, Referendum Act and Local Elections Campaign Financing Act. Together, these Acts define Elections BC’s responsibilities and set out the duties of the Chief Electoral Officer.
Elections BC is divided into five program areas:
- Electoral Finance and Corporate Administration
- Corporate Planning and Event Management
- Voter Registration and Boundaries
- Information Technology
Each program area has a specific set of responsibilities, reflecting the wide scope of Elections BC’s work.
Corporate planning and event management
At the heart of Elections BC’s work lies the planning and management of electoral events. Elections BC is required to deliver a wide range of scheduled and non-scheduled events, including general elections, by-elections, referendums, initiative petitions and recall campaigns. Every aspect of these events must be planned for and administered, including the candidacy process, voting opportunities, ballot counting and results reporting.
Although provincial general elections are scheduled for specific dates every four years, other electoral events can happen suddenly and with little warning. The need to respond quickly means that Elections BC must maintain a state of constant readiness.
Elections BC is committed to a culture of planning to support the successful delivery of these events. Every program area plans its work according to a step-by-step process, and performance measurements are used to ensure that work is delivered on schedule and that lessons learned can be applied to future projects.
Careful planning reduces risks, increases productivity and improves event delivery. This is particularly important for events such as general elections, which involve months of work, complex logistics and an estimated 22,000 temporary staff.
Elections BC is responsible for administering provincial electoral finance and local elections campaign financing and advertising laws. This includes Parts 9, 10 and 11 of the Election Act, the financing provisions of the Recall and Initiative Act, and the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act. In other jurisdictions, electoral finance is often called campaign finance.
In B.C., electoral finance includes:
- the registration and deregistration of political parties and constituency associations
- rules about how political parties, constituency associations, candidates, leadership contestants, elector organizations and third party advertising sponsors must administer their finances
- financial disclosure and reporting requirements
- rules about election and campaign advertising
Elections BC is responsible for maintaining the provincial voters list, which includes the names and addresses of the registered voters in each electoral district. The voters list is used to make sure that only eligible voters vote in an election and that they only vote once.
Under the Election Act, Elections BC must hold enumerations to maintain the accuracy of the list. An enumeration is a registration event directed to all eligible voters or specific groups of voters in one or more electoral districts.
Elections BC is also responsible for regulating access to the voters list. Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and registered political parties are allowed a copy of the list, as are recall proponents. The list is made available to municipal and federal election administrators and is used to produce jury selection lists.
Geographic data and electoral boundaries
Elections BC maintains a range of high quality electoral data and information, including a geospatial database of B.C.’s electoral boundaries, road network and address data. It provides support to the boundary redistribution process and produces a variety of products necessary to administer electoral events, such as copies of the provincial voters list, electoral maps and the Location Index.
Communications and voter education
Elections BC provides British Columbians with the information they need to learn more about the electoral process and how they can participate, and works to engage voters and raise public awareness of the importance of voting. Elections BC has launched a series of outreach and partnering efforts and remains committed to providing a wide range of public information materials.
What happens between elections?
Elections BC staff are often asked what they do between elections. In fact, they do quite a lot.
Elections BC staff, like election administrators everywhere, are the firefighters of the electoral world – ready to serve whenever and wherever necessary. Between fires, firefighters check their equipment, develop their skills and knowledge, train new recruits, update materials and keep their supplies current and ready. That’s what Elections BC does. Between elections, it administers on-demand events like by-elections, maintains the voters list, reviews and updates materials and supplies, maintains and updates its computer systems and ensures all staff are trained and ready to serve.
Some of Elections BC’s ongoing activities include:
- public awareness programs and voter education initiatives
- voter registration activities
- responding to inquiries from the media and the general public
- registering political parties and constituency associations
- appointing and training District Electoral Officers
- providing voters lists to municipalities for their elections
- providing voters lists to MLAs, registered political parties and constituency associations
- liaising with other election offices and organizations
- administering election finance requirements and publishing financial disclosure reports
- managing voting areas