Election Integrity Processes

This webpage will help you understand the processes and procedures that protect provincial elections in British Columbia.

These processes and procedures span the entire election period. They begin before an election is called and end after the final results for the election are reported.

Independence and non-partisanship

As an independent, non-partisan office of the legislature, Elections BC receives its mandate directly from legislation. We do not take direction from government on how to administer elections.

This ensures that election processes are protected from political influence, and that elections are held on a fair and level playing field.

Voting and counting processes

Voter registration

Voter registration helps safeguard election integrity by ensuring that only eligible voters vote, and that each eligible voter only votes once. Before registering, voters must confirm they meet the eligibility criteria, which includes being a Canadian citizen, 18 years of age or older, and a resident of B.C. for at least six months.

Elections BC maintains the Provincial Voters List, which contains the names and residential addresses of every registered voter in British Columbia. The list is continuously updated using information from voters, ICBC, Elections Canada, and local election officials.

The names of voters who have died are removed from the list based on information provided by the B.C. Vital Statistics Agency. Voters that move out of province are also removed from the list, based on data in the federal National Register of Electors

You can register when you go to vote, but you need to bring voter ID that proves your identity, age and residential address.

It is a serious offence under the Election Act to provide false or misleading information when registering to vote. Individuals who are convicted of providing false or misleading information may receive a fine of up to $20,000, up to two years in prison, or both.


The voting process for provincial elections is designed to protect election integrity. Many familiar parts of the voting process are also election integrity safeguards.

One person, one vote

For example, the requirement for voters to provide ID to receive their ballot ensures that each eligible voter can only vote once. We call this principle of election integrity “one person, one vote.”

When voters cast their ballot, they will be struck off the voters list as having voted, which prevents them from voting again.

Multiple voting is a serious offence under the Election Act and subject to significant penalties. Any potential case of multiple voting is thoroughly investigated.

The secret ballot

Other parts of the voting process such as marking your ballot behind a voting screen, or placing your vote-by-mail ballot into a certification envelope, also protect election integrity. Once you have cast your ballot, it cannot be traced back to you, so no one can know who you voted for. We call this principle “the secrecy of the ballot.”

Voter-marked paper ballots

Votes are cast using voter-marked paper ballots. This is the gold standard in election administration, as a paper ballot cannot be “hacked.” All ballots are retained after they have been counted. This allows Elections BC to review them for counting audits, or if necessary, for a formal recount.

Voting by mail

When voters vote by mail, the same principles apply to protect election integrity.

Voters must individually apply for their own voting package, which is then mailed directly to them. They also have integrity checks when they complete their package. They must sign a declaration confirming their eligibility to vote and verify their identity by providing a shared secret (their birthdate). Upon receipt by Elections BC, there is further screening to ensure voter eligibility, and the voter is struck off the voters list.

Vote-by-mail ballots are also put into a secrecy sleeve prior going into the return envelopes. This ensures that the secrecy of the ballot can be maintained when voting packages are prepared for counting.

Principles like one person one vote, the secrecy of the ballot, and using voter-marked paper ballots ensure a secure voting process.

For more information voting processes, see the Guide to Voting and Counting.


Processes for counting votes also protect election integrity.

Types of counting

In a provincial election, there are four types of counting:

  • Initial count — Initial count takes place in each electoral district immediately after close of voting on Final Voting Day. Initial count includes all ballots except for those that are not ready to be counted (such as vote-by-mail ballots received after the close of advance voting). Any ballots not counted at initial count are counted at final count. Candidates and candidate representatives may be present to observe initial count.
  • Recount of initial count — Some or all of the ballots counted at initial count may be recounted in certain circumstances. For example, all ballots considered at initial count will be recounted if preliminary results show a difference of 100 votes or fewer between the top two candidates in the electoral district. This is called a district electoral officer recount.
  • Final count — Final count takes place about one week after initial count. It includes all ballots not counted at initial count, such as vote-by-mail ballots received after the close of advance voting, or absentee ballots cast by out-of-district voters at voting places where networked strike-off is not available. Approximately 2% of ballots cast will be counted at final count.
  • Judicial recount — A judicial recount is conducted by a justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia. It may include some or all the ballots for an election. District electoral officers must apply for a judicial recount if there is a tie vote or if the difference between the first two candidates is less than 1/500th of the total ballots considered. Candidates may also apply for judicial recounts under certain circumstances.

Quality assurance

There is a comprehensive quality assurance (QA) program in place to ensure all votes are counted accurately.

The QA program includes logic and accuracy testing of tabulators (the scanning equipment used to count ballots) before and after they are used. These tests are conducted “double blind,” which means the officials conducting the test are not told what results are expected so that results cannot be falsified.

The QA program also includes ballot reconciliation, which means election officials must confirm that all ballots have been accounted for before counting can begin. At each voting place, the number of ballots issued to voters must match the number of ballots deposited into tabulators.

In addition, election officials perform a hand count on randomly selected tabulators after they are used, and the paper ballots from all voting places are retained for recounts.

For more information counting processes, see the Guide to Voting and Counting.


It is a serious offence under the Election Act to interfere with counting processes. Individuals who attempt to interfere with counting processes may receive significant penalties, including a fine of up to $10,000, up to one year in prison, or both.

Transparency and Oversight

Transparency and oversight provide additional protection against threats to election integrity.

We publish detailed information about election processes on our website and, during an election, there are many opportunities for candidates and their representatives to observe these processes in person.

Candidate representatives (also known as scrutineers) can observe voting and counting processes at voting places, in district electoral offices, and at Elections BC headquarters in Victoria.

This includes observation of the “zero tape.”

Zero tape

Before voting begins, election officials demonstrate that no votes are stored in the tabulators.

This involves printing a results tape for each tabulator that shows zero votes have been counted (the zero tape). The results tape remains attached to the tabulator, where candidate representatives can sign the tape before voting begins. Once voting has closed, results will be printed on the same tape as the zero tape. Candidate representatives will know it’s the same tape because they signed it before voting began.

Enforcing election legislation

Elections BC protects election integrity by enforcing election legislation.

Registration of political participants

Candidates, political parties and third-party advertising sponsors must register with Elections BC to participate in a provincial election.

For example, the Election Act requires candidates to file a nomination application with Elections BC to confirm their eligibility and disclose any affiliation with a political party.

Registration of political participants provides transparency for voters and allows Elections BC to regulate political activity according to the rules in the Election Act.

Use the links below to learn more about registration of political participants:

Electoral finance rules

The Election Act has rules for financing during provincial elections that apply to candidates, political parties and third-party advertising sponsors. These rules regulate how political participants can raise and spend money for election expenses, and what they must disclose publicly about their fundraising and spending after an election.

Electoral finance rules protect election integrity by providing transparency for voters and leveling the playing field for political participants.

Political contributions

There are rules for accepting political contributions in B.C.

For example, the Election Act prohibits political contributions from foreign sources. Political participants must only accept contributions from eligible individuals (someone who is a resident of B.C. and a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, and who uses their own funds).

There are also annual contribution limits that set out the maximum amounts eligible individuals can contribute to support political activities in B.C. Political participants must ensure they do not accept more than the annual limit from any contributor.

Expense limits

Candidates, political parties and third-party sponsors are subject to expense limits during a provincial election.

For the 2024 Provincial General Election, a political party’s election expenses limit is $1.16 times the total number of registered voters, and a candidate’s election expenses limit is $58,000. A third-party advertising sponsor may spend a maximum of $3,000 in a single electoral district, and $150,000 overall in the province.

Expense limits level the playing field for political participants and prevent an undue influence of money in elections.

Disclosure and reporting requirements

Political participants must file financial disclosure reports that include information about the source of their political contributions and election expenses. Elections BC reviews these reports to ensure all legislated rules are being followed.


The Election Act has rules for advertising during a provincial election.

For example, all election advertising must include an authorization statement. Authorization statements identify who paid for the advertisement and how voters can contact them.

This increases transparency and lets voters know who is spending money to influence their vote.

Restrictions on false statements and misrepresentation

The Election Act also prohibits individuals and organizations from deliberately transmitting specific types of disinformation that are objectively false. This includes:

Violating the Act’s prohibitions against false statements and misrepresentation can result in significant monetary penalties (up to $20,000).

The Act also gives the Chief Electoral Officer the power to order individuals or organizations to stop transmitting false election advertising or other communications. Non-compliance can result in penalties of up to $50,000 per day for every day they fail to comply.


Elections BC opens investigations when there is evidence that a substantial case of non-compliance has occurred. We open investigations on our own initiative or in response to a complaint.

If an investigation concludes that non-compliance likely occurred, depending on the nature of the non-compliance and the specific facts of the case, Elections BC may:

  • Send a warning letter to the subject,
  • apply an administrative monetary penalty, or
  • refer the matter to the Ministry of Attorney General to consider offence charges.

To learn more, see Our Investigation Process.