What We Do

Elections BC administers provincial general elections, by-elections, recall petitions, initiative petitions, initiative votes, referenda and plebiscites, and oversee campaign financing and advertising rules at the local level.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives Canadian citizens the right to vote in provincial and federal elections. Elections BC is the custodian of that right for provincial elections in B.C.

We are an independent and non-partisan Office of the Legislature, and our 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 our responsibilities and set out the duties of the Chief Electoral Officer.

We administer the most comprehensive range of electoral legislation in Canada, with the Recall and Initiative Act being unique in the Commonwealth.

Planning and event management

At the heart of Elections BC’s work lies planning and managing electoral events. Elections BC delivers a wide range of scheduled and on-demand events, including general elections, by-elections, referendums, initiative petitions and recall campaigns. Every aspect of these events must be planned for and administered, including candidate nominations, voting opportunities, ballot counting and results reporting.

Provincial and local general elections are scheduled for specific dates every four years, but unscheduled events can happen unexpectedly. The need to respond quickly means that Elections BC must maintain a state of constant readiness. Provincial general elections involve months of work, complex logistics and over 23,000 temporary staff.

Electoral finance

Elections BC is responsible for administering campaign financing and advertising laws for provincial and local elections, including:

  • registering and deregistering political parties and constituency associations
  • administering rules about how political parties, constituency associations, nomination contestants, 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

Voter registration

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 local and federal election administrators and is used to produce jury selection lists.

Elections BC maintains the List of Future Voters, a list of eligible 16 and 17-year-olds who will be automatically added to the Provincial Voters List when they turn 18.

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 (PDF).

Communications and outreach

Elections BC provides British Columbians with the information they need to vote and helps the public learn more about the electoral process through public education activities. Elections BC has developed resources to support those who face barriers to voting and conducts outreach to encourage participation.

What happens between elections?

We’re often asked what we do between elections. In fact, we 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, we administer on-demand events like referenda or by-elections, maintain the voters list, review and update materials and supplies, maintain and update our computer systems, and ensure that all our staff are trained and ready to serve.

Some of Elections BC’s ongoing activities include:

  • public awareness programs
  • voter registration activities
  • responding to inquiries from the media and the public
  • registering political parties and constituency associations
  • hiring and training staff
  • 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
  • maintaining electoral geography and associated databases