Local Elections FAQs

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Elections BC’s role in local elections

What is Elections BC’s role in local elections and assent voting in B.C.?

Elections BC administers campaign financing, disclosure and election advertising rules. The Local Elections Campaign Financing Act establishes these rules. We do not administer voting or candidate nominations for local elections or assent voting in B.C.

See our Who Does What in Local Elections page for more information.

Who administers local elections in B.C.?

Unlike provincial elections, local government elections in B.C. are not run by one single entity. Elections BC is one of several authorities that play a role in local general elections, by-elections and assent voting.

Area of administration Who is responsible
Voting and ballots Local Chief Election Officers
Nomination process Local Chief Election Officers
Advertising rules Elections BC
Campaign financing and disclosure rules Elections BC
School trustees/school board elections The Ministry of Education
Legislation for local elections The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

What do local Chief Election Officers do?

Each jurisdiction in B.C. appoints a local Chief Election Officer to run local elections and assent voting in that jurisdiction. To find contact information for your local Chief Election Officer, search for the name of your local government (city, regional district, municipality, etc.) on CivicInfo’s Organizations page.

If you have questions outside of an election, contact your local Chief Administrative Officer.

For Boards of Education elections, contact the secretary treasurer’s office in your local school district.

What legislation governs local elections in B.C.?

  • Local Elections Campaign Financing Act (LECFA)
  • Local Government Act
  • School Act
  • Vancouver Charter
  • Community Charter

The provincial Election Act does not apply to local elections in B.C.

 


Contribution and expense limits

Are there restrictions on who can make a campaign contribution in local elections in B.C., or limits on how much?

Yes. To make a campaign contribution to a candidate or elector organization, you must be a resident of B.C. and a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Contributions from corporations, organizations and unions are prohibited. There are also limits on campaign contributions. See our Making a Campaign Contribution page for details.

Are there restrictions on who can make s sponsorship contribution in local elections and assent voting in B.C., or limits on how much?

Yes. To make a sponsorship contribution to an advertising sponsor, you must be a resident of B.C. and a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Contributions from corporations, organizations and unions are prohibited. There are no limits on the amount of sponsorship contributions that an eligible individual can make in relation to a local election.

Is there an expense limit for local election candidates and elector organizations?

Yes. Expense limits apply generally as follows:

  • In communities with a population of fewer than 10,000 people, the expense limit is $10,000 for mayoral candidates and $5,000 for all other candidates.
  • In communities with a population of 10,000 or more, the expense limits are determined using a per-capita formula.
  • There is no separate expense limit for elector organizations. An elector organization is required to attribute campaign period expenses to each of its endorsed candidates, and must have a campaign financing arrangement with each of its endorsed candidates.

See our Candidate Expense Limits page for more details.

Who calculates expense limits?

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Ministry of Education are responsible for determining expense limits. They are provided to Elections BC once they are calculated and published on the Elections BC website.

The expense limits established for the 2018 General Local Elections apply to local by-elections until the next general local elections scheduled for 2022.

Is there an expense limit for third party advertising sponsors?

Yes. Limits to directed advertising and issue advertising apply generally as follows:

  • In a community that has a population of fewer than 15,000 people, the directed advertising limit is $750.
  • In a community that has a population of 15,000 people or more, the directed advertising limit is 5% of the candidate expense limit in the corresponding election area.
  • Issue advertising is not in relation to a specific candidate or elector organization and is limited to $150,000 overall.
  • A third party advertising sponsor must not spend more than $150,000 in total in directed and issue advertising.

See our Third Party Expense Limits page for more details.

What is directed advertising? What is issue advertising?

Directed advertising is third party advertising that identifies a candidate, includes a photo or likeness of a candidate or identifies a candidate by voice or physical description. Directed advertising also includes advertising that names an elector organization or includes a logo or likeness of a logo used by the elector organization.

Issue advertising is third party advertising about an issue of public policy that a candidate or elector organization is associated with, but does not name the candidate or elector organization.

 


Advertising requirements, sponsorship information and signs

What election advertising must include sponsorship information?

The following advertising must include sponsorship information:

  • election signs
  • newspaper, radio and television ads
  • pamphlets, posters and brochures
  • automated dialer calls (e.g., robo-calls)
  • online ads (e.g., social media ads and boosted content, pop-ups, pay-per-click, pre-roll videos and banner ads)

Note: If clicking on an online ad takes the viewer to a page with the sponsorship information, the statement does not need to be included in the ad itself.

What election advertising does NOT require sponsorship information?

The following advertising does not need to include sponsorship information:

  • clothing (e.g., shirts, vests)
  • novelty items (e.g., pens, mugs, buttons)
  • small items of nominal value intended for personal use (e.g., business cards)
  • free social media posts (which are not considered advertising)

What information must be included in sponsorship information?

For candidates and elector organizations:

  • the name of the financial agent or the candidate if they are acting as their own financial agent
  • a B.C. telephone number or B.C. mailing address or an email address
  • the words “authorized by”

e.g., Authorized by John Doe, 555-555-5555

For advertising sponsors:

  • the name of the sponsor
  • a B.C. telephone number or B.C. mailing address or an email address
  • the words “authorized by”
  • the words “registered sponsor under LECFA”

e.g., Authorized by XYZ Group, registered sponsor under LECFA, xyzgroup@email.ca
e.g., Authorized by Jane Smith, registered sponsor under LECFA, PO Box 123 Victoria, BC V1A 1A2

Where can election signs be placed and where are they prohibited?

Election signs cannot be placed within 100 metres of a voting place during voting. Questions about this rule should be directed to Local Chief Election Officers.

Elections BC does not regulate where signs can be placed. However, local governments may have by-laws that apply. Contact your local city/municipal hall for more information.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure also has an election signs policy. Contact your local district transportation manager for more information.

What is online election advertising?

Election messages transmitted over the internet are election advertising only if they meet the applicable definition and have, or would normally have, a placement cost. A placement cost is the cost of purchasing election advertising space on a social media site or other website.

For example, the costs of placing social media ads or boosting social content, banner ads, pre-roll videos or ads on Facebook or other social media sites are placement costs. Ad space received for free that normally has a placement cost is also election advertising.

Messages without placement costs on the internet, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media posts, YouTube videos, emails and websites are not election advertising. The costs related to creating, maintaining and posting messages on a website are generally not placement costs.

 


General Voting Day rules

Can candidates, elector organizations, advertising sponsors and members of the public use social media on General Voting Day?

Yes. They can use free social media to post messages to their friends and followers. However, they are not allowed to conduct any online advertising that has a placement cost, such as sponsored Facebook or Twitter posts, pop-up, pay-per-click and banner ads.

What are candidates, elector organizations and advertising sponsors allowed to do on General Voting Day?

  • live person-to-person telephone calls
  • door-to-door canvassing
  • handing out brochures
  • placing election or advertising signs or posters
  • “mainstreeting” and “sign-and-wave”
  • advertising with placement costs on the internet for the sole purpose of encouraging voters to vote in the election

However, these activities must not take place within 100 metres of a voting place.

What are candidates, elector organizations and advertising sponsors NOT allowed to do on General Voting Day?

  • sponsor newspaper, television, radio advertising, or internet ads that will run on General Voting Day
  • use automated dialers (e.g., robo-calls) to promote candidates and/or elector organizations

What are media NOT allowed to do on General Voting Day?

Media cannot publish any election advertising via newspaper, radio or television, and cannot publish new election advertising on the internet. Advertising on the internet before General Voting Day can remain but must not be changed in any way.

What can media print or air on General Voting Day? Can they interview candidates or run stories about candidates?

Media may publish, without charge, news, editorials, interviews, columns, letters, debates, speeches or commentaries within their bona fide publications, television programs and radio shows. This includes interviews and stories about candidates.

Can media take video or pictures in voting places on General Voting Day?

Elections BC does not administer voting for local elections. Contact your local city/municipal hall or the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing at 250-387-4020.