Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Wed Post #2: Is this an activity which constitutes campaigning outside a polling station?

UPDATE: Reader confirms violation. See end of post. 

Interesting question raised by faithful reader GJ via email.

Above is a picture of the entrance to a polling station in Surrey. It's Sanford Elementary School to be precise, located in the  Surrey-Newton riding - a seat currently held by Harry Bains of the BC NDP.

At the far right of the picture is a woman wearing an orange/blue golf shirt.  It is apparently embroidered with the BC NDP logo  and says "BC NDP 2013"

According to GJ, she is a volunteer driver for the Bains campaign and has given a Bains voter a ride to the polling station.

GJ's concern?
"The volunteer has driven the voter to the polling station, which is a common practice of candidates, but then she stands outside of the entrance to the polling station wearing a bright orange/blue golf shirt emblazoned on the front with "BC NDP 2013". She is there for over 20 minutes as voters walk into the polling station. Is this not considered campaigning outside a voting station? I thought there weren't supposed to be ANY election signs or paraphernalia promoting any party within a certain radius of the voting stations?

Given the generic nature of the golf shirts (BC NDP 2013), is this being repeated at every voting station in the Province by volunteers for the BC NDP (or other parties)? Is this allowed or is it a violation of the voting act?"
Interesting question and I'm not sure of the answer. Are volunteers allowed to wear party logos and stand outside of voting stations? Are all the political parties doing this?

Anyone out there know?

UPDATE: Reader in comments section (hat tip Jesse) confirms this action is a violation of BC Election rules. 

Sec 234 (2) (c) While advance voting or general voting is being conducted at a voting place, an individual or organization must not do any of the following in or within 100 metres of the building where the voting is being conducted:
  • carry, wear or supply a flag, badge or other thing indicating that the individual using it is a supporter of a particular candidate or registered political party.
If anyone else has seen similar irregularities by any of the political parties, forward them and we will post.


Email: village_whisperer@live.ca
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  1. Interesting question. Volunteers driving voters to a polling station is a common practice.

    But it does seem somehow wrong to stand outside the door of polling station with a shirt advertising a voting choice.

    Never seen that before myself.

  2. Hey Whisper, I sent you email about bubbles, did you get a chance to read it. {ref: the Guardian}


    1. Hi Bob. Don't recall the email, send it again if you don't mind.

  3. Scrutineers and partisans from both the NDP and Liberal parties are aggressive, well-informed and well-connected. In addition, many voters have fierce (and often incorrect) opinions on what's permitted.

    I can guarantee you that NDP supporter isn't part of an organized campaign to flout advertising regulations. Such an effort would be obvious, and the repercussions would be swift and terrible. There would be very little to gain: voting places are sacred, and everyone knows it.

    Want to prove it for yourself? Just wander around while wearing an orange shirt. People will very happily volunteer their opinions about voting regulations, along with your parents' marital status.

    1. It does seem rather strange. Obviously volunteers need to be identifiable when they go pick up voters who have requested rides.

      But to stand right outside the door of a polling station with partisan party shirt on does seem somewhat shocking. Agree with your statement that voting places are sacred and everyone knows it... hence the reason for the post.

      Curious to know if others have come across this at other locations - whether in regard to BC NDP, BC Liberals, BC Conservatives, BC Greens or others?

    2. Whisperer, it's not strange, it's just an unfortunate accident. I expect that woman received an angry earful from from your source, and probably many others.

      The same thing happened to me during the last election: I was volunteering, and I apparently strayed within 100 meters of a polling place. That's as the crow flies: there was a block of buildings between me and the ballot boxes, and no way through without a jackhammer. Nevertheless, an enraged volunteer from another party was on the scene almost instantly, raising holy hell on a cell-phone.

      I never did find out whether I was allowed to be there or not, but it was irrelevant and not worth fighting over.

      I'm not saying elections here are free from hijinks. But, if there are dirty tricks being played, they won't be so misguided or obvious.

  4. http://www.bclaws.ca/EPLibraries/bclaws_new/document/LOC/freeside/--%20E%20--/Election%20Act%20RSBC%201996%20c.%20106/00_Act/96106_11.xml#section234

    "While advance voting or general voting is being conducted at a voting place, an individual or organization must not do any of the following in or within 100 metres of the building where the voting is being conducted:

    carry, wear or supply a flag, badge or other thing indicating that the individual using it is a supporter of a particular candidate or registered political party

    Without knowing much about it, this seems an easy fix: cover up the shirt or stand at least 100m away from the entrance. Likely a volunteer who wasn't told the rules.

    1. Thanks Jesse. Certainly appears the action was in contravention of the election rules.

  5. I'd love to see Elections BC have the balls to disqualify candidates (both NDP or Liberal) who pull these stunts.

  6. If the shirt was turned inside-out would it be a Liberal shirt?

  7. This is a tempest in a teapot. I agree with Jesse's suspicion that this was a volunteer's mistake.

    Now let's be thankful we're living in a jurisdiction where a logo on a volunteer's shirt seems to constitute post-worthy election shenanigans. And lament that voter turnout is probably going to be far lower than it should.

  8. Not as bad as when I was a returning officer in the Federal elections millions of years ago (Trudeau, I think) and the "Progressive" Conservative guy who "observed" my polling station harassed every immigrant for ID, even though he was NOT allowed to talk to anyone waiting to vote. Well he only did it once.

    I was only 18, so he thought I was an easy mark. Not.

  9. I voted today. I've only voted in a couple elections. But today I found it creepy to enter the polling station and pass through 5 or 6 people who were loitering out front (volunteers driving maybe, or just there waiting for someone inside). Loitering around an entrance, getting the eyeball up and down as you enter is nothing if not creepy. The experience inside isn't much better... a gym, with 30 voting stations, two people at each station, 60 people all looking at you as you walk to your station, because the gym is entirely vacant of voters on voting day. It was a *ridiculous* waste of resources. I'm pretty ashamed of the efficiency of our voting system in this day and age... but at least it's non-violent.

    I voted NDP for the constructive destruction vote. The next time the incumbents want to give $10,000 to the developers so perpetuate this bubble, they'll get voted out, too. Now let's spend 4 years on the *bust* portion of this boom/bust cycle and then get a real party back in power.

  10. I voted NDP (first time NDP for me). Almost went Green, but figured may as well not get too silly about it. I've got young kids in school and think the NDP will do a better job with elementary school education than the Fiberals. Also, just overall generally pissed with the Fiberal stunts over the last decade.

  11. Really, this is news?? Meme...and to the commentor who stated they had made a mistake last time....move on nothing to see or hear here