Did the placement of Vision campaign signs violate election laws?
Michael Aynsley, November 10, 2011
Outlying mayoral candidate Randy Helten, with the Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver (NSV), submitted a formal complaint to Vancouver’s chief election officer on Thursday regarding the placement of about 15 election signs near City Hall.
This news comes via CityHallWatch, a rushed looking WordPress site which Helten himself is the “coordinator” of. On Wednesday, a post was made with the attention-grabbing title, “Alert: Vision Vancouver violated election rules on 1st polling day”. Vision campaign signs were spotted hanging from a chain link fence surrounding an empty lot on the south side of 12th Avenue and Cambie Street, right across from City Hall. Municipal election law states that campaign signs cannot be within 100 metres of a voting place, and on Wednesday, advance voting did indeed begin at 453 West 12th Avenue. And while I haven’t done the measurement myself, I can say that directly across the street is awfully close.
Section 125 (4)
- (4) In relation to voting proceedings, a person must not do any of the following at or within 100 metres of a building, structure or other place where voting proceedings are being conducted at the time:
- (a) canvass or solicit votes or otherwise attempt to influence how an elector votes;
- (b) carry, wear or supply a flag, badge or other thing indicating that the person using it is a supporter of a particular candidate, elector organization or campaign organizer;
- (c) display or distribute a sign, a document or other material regarding a candidate, elector organization or campaign organizer, except as authorized by the chief election officer;
- (d) display, distribute, post or openly leave a representation of a ballot marked for a particular candidate in an election.
Apparently the campaign signs were down by 5 p.m. Wednesday. Here’s Helten’s Thursday morning note to the city’s electoral office, which I’m assuming was accompanied by a jpeg attachment of the alleged violation:
Chief Elections Officer
City of Vancouver
Dear Ms. MacKenzie,
I am writing to register a formal complaint regarding the apparent violation of the Vancouver Charter by posting signs less than 100 metres from a polling station on a voting day.
Section 125 (4) states that:
(4) In relation to voting proceedings, a person must not do any of the following at or within 100 metres of a building, structure or other place where voting proceedings are being conducted at the time: … (c) display or distribute a sign, a document or other material regarding a candidate, elector organization or campaign organizer, except as authorized by the chief election officer;
As of noon on Wednesday, November 9, 2011, about 15 large signs advertising Vision Vancouver and its candidates were located on the southeast corner of 12th Avenue and Cambie Street. I believe this is a violation of the spirit and the letter of the Vancouver Charter.
It is unacceptable for this to occur by Vancouver’s ruling “party” on the very first day of advance voting, directly in front of City Hall. I believe it is disrespectful of the Vancouver Charter and voters, and unfair for all other candidates, their elector organizations, and their supporters.
By evening the signs were down. But this single violation of the Vancouver Charter in such a visible location on a busy street corner in front of City Hall, makes me wonder how common this violation happens to be. Elector organizations, especially the one currently with control of Vancouver City Council, should uphold the highest standards and respect of regulations. It is disappointing that a violation of this nature should occur at all, and that it is left to individual citizens to report. Is it possible to instruct the chief polling officer at each voting place to be responsible for monitoring the area near the voting place and to take action in the event of violations?
At the very least, I encourage you to correspond formally with Vision Vancouver regarding this violation, reminding them of the requirements under the Vancouver Charter.