Backgrounder: Protecting Voters from Rogue Callers

The Fair Elections Act protects voters from rogue and misleading calls, with a mandatory public registry for mass calling, prison time for impersonating elections officials and increased penalties for deceiving people out of their votes.

With respect to telemarketing and automated dialling during an election period, the Fair Elections Act will:

  • Create a new registry for voter contact services by telephone;
  • Require registration with the CRTC of telephone service providers engaging in voter contact and of any person or group engaging the use of telephone service providers for voter contact purposes;
  • Require any person or group using internal services to make automated calls for voter contact purposes to register with the CRTC;
  • Require any person or group using a telephone service provider for voter contact purposes to have their identity verified by providing identification to the CRTC and the telephone service provider;
  • Require any person or group making automated calls for voter contact purposes to have their identity verified by providing identification to the  CRTC and the telephone service provider;
  • Require that registrations be made publicly available thirty days after Polling Day;
  • Require that registrations be made available to CRTC officials within forty-eight hours of a call being made for voter contact purposes;
  • Require a recording of messages sent using automated calls to be kept for one year from the date of the election;
  • Require scripts of live messages used by telephone service providers to be kept for one year from the date of the election; and
  • Increase disclosure requirements for political parties, candidates and electoral district associations by providing for a specific disclosure line within the election return for expenses incurred for voter contact purposes by telephone.

The Fair Elections Act would also clarify in the law that neither Elections Canada, nor election officers make unsolicited calls to voters.

New Offences

  • Increase the maximum fines for the more serious elections offences, such as taking a false oath or making a false or erroneous declaration to elections officials, from $2,000 to $20,000 on summary conviction and from $5,000 to $50,000 on indictment.
  • The creation of tough new offences for:
    • Impersonating:
      • a candidate;
      • a representative of a candidate;
      • a representative of a registered party or registered association;
      • the Chief Electoral Officer;
      • a member of the Chief Electoral Officer’s staff;
      • an election officer or a person authorized to act on behalf of the Chief Electoral Officer or an election officer;
    • providing false information to an investigator and obstructing an investigation; and
    • non-compliance with the proposed voter contact registry, including for providing false information or failing to provide identification when registering.

Toughening Offenses

Increase by ten times the penalties for preventing, or attempting to prevent a voter from voting.  Penalties for doing so will increase from $2,000 to $20,000 on summary conviction and from $5,000 to $50,000 on indictment.