2011-05-02 Canada vote results via #TweetTheResults

ImageThe second largest country in the world has an interesting law under Section 329 of Canada's Elections Act:

No person shall transmit the result or purported result of the vote in an electoral district to the public in another electoral district before the close of all of the polling stations in that other electoral district.

Polls close at different times across Canada's six time zones, and media are prevented from broadcasting results from the east to provinces in the west that are still voting, under threat of a $25,000 fine. This probably seemed like a good idea in 1938. While CBC has gone so far as to close their comments, Twitter hashtag #TweetTheResults has been threatening for weeks to do just that. Many very interesting questions would apply in that case, such as, what if people from outside the country tweet the results? Is it against the law to tweet results to people in your time zone? Is it against the law to tweet codenamed results? And many more that we will probably discover in the next few hours.

The object of the ban is ostensibly to prevent people from being unduly influenced by the earlier vote which raises the question of whose business it is what information people use to inform their vote. It is more likely however, that Elections Canada do not wish people west of Ontario to be reminded just how little their vote matters. Of 308 seats in the House of Commons, 106 are in Ontario and 75 are in Quebec. The territories get one each, Manitoba and Saskatchewan 14 each, Alberta 28, and possibly Elections Canada feels that by the time British Columbia gets to their 36 they will just head for the pub instead.

In any event, the #TweetTheResults stream is below the crease, so if you feel you may be unduly influenced by anything true or false which someone may or may not post on Twitter, do not continue reading.

Update: Website tweettheresults.ca just posted the following after removing their tweetstream:

a few minutes ago, this site was home to a conversation about the role of social media in Canadian elections. It was set up to aggregate the tweets (messages posted to Twitter) that include the hashtag #tweettheresults. That's how people across Canada and around the world have been tagging their reflections on Section 329 of Canada's Elections Act, which severely restricts the transmission of voting results until all polling stations have closed. We hoped that this site would provoke a conversation about Section 329, and raise the profile of the issue across Canada. We think it's done that, both on the social web and in the mainstream media.

But that conversation became illegal at 7 pm EST this evening. Rather than face a potential fine or protracted legal battle, we have taken this site offline for 3 hours. When free speech returns to Canada at 10 pm EST, the site will be back online and you will be able to read all the tweets that have accumulated in the interim.

If you tweet about this situation, please use the hashtag #tweettheresults so it will appear here.

To follow the conversation while this Canadian site is offline, you can still view all the latest tweets by searching for #tweettheresults on Twitter.

We never imagined a day when Canadians would have to use a foreign website to participate in a conversation about our own country. We never imagined that we, Canadian citizens, would potentially face legal penalties for our role in supporting an online conversation. We hope that all Canadians who have exercised their voice at the polls today will reclaim those voices online by asking the next government to bring our Elections Act into the 21st century.

Update 2: Elections Canada has some bigger problems to deal with this year. Voters have been getting phone calls telling them to go to the wrong polling stations. Current Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been campaigning on election day in defiance of Elections Canada regulations. And Elections Canada themselves have suffered poor organization that has cost voters their opportunity to vote. When they have finished shutting down websites we would suggest they direct their attention to curtailing the Prime Minister.

Update 3: At 6 PM PST, #tweettheresults was trending third worldwide.

Update 4: At 6:30 PM PST, #tweettheresults was trending first worldwide and Atlantic Canada is fourth.

I guess we now see whether Canada is a nation of laws..

or if the ruling incumbent can do whatever he pleases.

with respect to certain offences, the deregistration of a party and liquidation of its assets, and the liquidation of the assets of the party's registered associations

Continue reading on Examiner.com: Stephen Harper breaks election rules, campaigns on radio on election day - Canada Canada Headlines | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/canada-headlines-in-canada/stephen-harper-breaks...

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