Our Investigation Process

Elections BC has a mandate to enforce the legislation we administer, including the Election Act, Local Elections Campaign Financing Act, and Recall and Initiative Act. Investigations are a tool we use to support enforcement.

Opening Investigations

We open investigations when there is evidence that a substantial case of non-compliance has occurred. Substantial cases include those that could result in an administrative monetary penalty or offence, if confirmed. We can open investigations on our own initiative or in response to a complaint. The process can take a few weeks to over a year, depending on the investigation.

Concluding Investigations

There are two possible outcomes to an investigation:

  • Unsubstantiated – The investigation concludes that the allegations were unfounded or the investigation could not substantiate the allegations.
  • Substantiated – The investigation concludes that the allegations likely occurred. Depending on the nature of the non-compliance and the specific facts of the case, a substantiated investigation may conclude by:
    • Sending a warning letter to the subject,
    • Applying an administrative monetary penalty under the Administration of Monetary Penalties Policy (see below), or
    • Referring the matter to the Ministry of Attorney General to consider offence charges.

Elections BC is responsible for applying administrative monetary penalties. We also apply monetary penalties under the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act.

If an offence has occurred, the CEO may forward the matter to the BC Prosecution Service at the Ministry of the Attorney General, if the CEO determines that it is in the public interest to do so. The BC Prosecution Service decides whether to lay charges based on the likelihood of conviction and whether charges are in the public interest. The Chief Electoral Officer must approve any charges laid under the Acts we administer.

Investigations must be substantively concluded before a monetary penalty can be applied or a report is sent to the BC Prosecution Service; however, our investigation file remains open until those processes conclude. Closed files may be reopened if new evidence arises that requires further investigation.

When an administrative monetary penalty is applied, it is published on our website and in the BC Gazette. Other information about the investigation may be communicated publicly in accordance with our disclosure policy.

Administrative Monetary Penalties Policy