The Local Elections Statutes Amendment Act, 2021 (Bill 9) establishes new campaign financing and advertising rules for local elections in B.C. Some of these rules are in effect now, while others will come into force for municipal elections in October 2022. The changes include registration and financial reporting requirements for electoral organizations (municipal political parties), the introduction of a pre-campaign period for municipal elections, annual limits for contributions to third party advertisers and new administrative penalties to help enforce the rules. These changes follow recommendations made by the Chief Electoral Officer after B.C.’s last General Local Election in 2018.
Elector organizations will soon need to register with Elections BC and file annual financial reports. Previously elector organizations were not required to register with Elections BC and only filed reports after an election.
We are working on implementing these changes. A registry of elector organizations will be added to our website in the future. The first round of annual financial reports for elector organizations will be due on March 31, 2022.
Under the new rules the pre-campaign period encompasses the 60 days before the campaign period for a General Local Election. This change will come into effect for the 2022 municipal elections, which will take place in October 2022.
During this period advertisers must be registered with Elections BC and include an authorization statement in their advertising. These rules are in place to improve transparency and inform voters as to who is sponsoring election advertising and how much they are spending. Advertising spending limits will still only apply during the campaign period, which starts 29 days before election day.
The new rules also establish that canvassing voters on a commercial basis is considered to be election advertising and subject to the requirements.
The new rules also limit the amount of sponsorship contributions third party election advertisers can raise from eligible individuals. Starting January 1, 2021, the annual sponsorship contribution limit is $1,239.18, equal to the annual campaign contribution limit.
The changes also include new administrative penalties to help Elections BC enforce the rules. Elections BC will be able to levy fines for:
We are working on updating our systems, website, and local guides to reflect the changes above and many other technical changes included in the Local Elections Statutes Amendment Act, 2021.
In the meantime, local political participants are welcome to contact our Electoral Finance team with questions about the new rules at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-661-8683 (Mon-Fri, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. PST).