OTTAWA, April 21 (UPI) -- Canadians who post local results from the May 2 national election online before polling stations close in all six time zones face fines, election law states.
The upcoming election is the first one in which huge numbers of people are using such Internet social sites as Facebook and Twitter, but the 1938 Canada Elections Act forbids anyone from revealing election results before all polls in the country have closed to avoid creating a bias in western regions.
The law provides for a fine of as much as $25,000 for premature disclosure of vote tabulations, the Calgary Herald reported.
Elections Canada spokesman James Hale told the newspaper regardless of its age, the law would be enforced. "As long as the law is on the books, like any other law, it has to be obeyed," he said.
However, Professor Jeremy Berry at Mount Royal University in Calgary who specializes in government communication and social media, told the Herald said he doubted the law could be enforced effectively now.
"It's a bit like nailing Jello to the wall," he said.
There is a precedent for a fine for online disclosure of voting dating back to 2000. A Vancouver blogger with a small following posted election results from Atlantic provinces and Elections Canada fined him $1,000. He fought it all the way to the Canadian Supreme Court, but lost, the Victoria Times-Colonist said.