The crtc announces the voter contact registry is now accepting registrations for the federal election 

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today announced that the legal requirements regarding the Voter Contact Registry are now in effect. As such, the CRTC is accepting registrations for the federal election, which is taking place from August 2, 2015 to October 19, 2015.

Anyone (including candidates and political parties, corporations, trade associations and other persons or groups) using the services of a calling service provider to call voters during the election will have to register with the CRTC within 48 hours of making the first call. The calling service provider also will have to register with the CRTC.

In addition, anyone using their own internal services to make calls to voters using an automatic dialing and announcing device (often referred to as robocalls) will have to register with the CRTC within 48 hours of making the first call.

Registrations to the Voter Contact Registry must be submitted at: https://services.crtc.gc.ca/pro/VCR

With the exception of third parties who are corporations or groups, those who make live calls to voters using their own internal services will not have to register. In other words, candidates, nomination contestants, registered political parties, registered electoral district associations and individuals who use their own internal services to make live calls to voters will NOT have to register with the CRTC.

Registrants need to provide a copy of a piece of identification issued from a federal, provincial or territorial government, or international equivalent. The identification must include the registrant’s name and photo, and be accompanied by an attestation from a notary. Example of valid types of identification include a driver’s licence, provincial health card, Secure Certificate of Indian Status, Canadian Forces identity card, permanent residency card, valid Canadian or foreign passport or NEXUS card.

Registrants will also have to provide a copy of a piece of identification to a calling service provider before entering into an agreement for voter contact calling services, and again when authorizing the first call to be made under the agreement.

Although calling service providers need to register with the CRTC, they do not need to provide a copy of a piece of identification when filing their Registration Notice. Those who hire calling service providers are encouraged to ensure that they are aware of the rules.

The CRTC will work to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Voter Contact Registry, and has the authority to impose monetary penalties for each violation of up to $1,500 for individuals and up to $15,000 for corporations. Factors that will help determine the amount of a penalty include:

  • the nature and scope of the violation
  • any benefit that the person obtained from the commission of the violation
  • the person’s or group’s ability to pay the penalty
  • whether the person or group has a history of compliance with the Voter Contact Registry and the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules, and
  • any other relevant factors.

These factors will be applied with a view to promote compliance, and not to punish non-compliance.

Quick Facts
  • The CRTC is responsible for establishing and maintaining a Voter Contact Registry during federal elections.
  • Certain entities and parties who call voters during a federal election have to register with the CRTC no later than 48 hours after the first call is made.
  • Registrants need to provide a copy of a piece of identification issued from a federal, provincial or territorial government, or international equivalent, which includes the registrant’s name and photo.
  • The CRTC has set out the factors that it will consider when setting the penalty amounts for violations of the voter contact registry rules.
  • Registration notices filed with the CRTC will be published on the CRTC website as soon as feasible 30 days after polling day.
  • Canadians who think the Voter Contact Registry requirements are not being followed can submit a complaint at: http://crtc.gc.ca/eng/question.htm
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fair elections act and the voter contact registry - new requirements for survey researchers

 

With the federal elections approaching quickly (October 19th), members should be aware of new requirements that will come into play once the election period gets officially under way.

The Fair Elections Act was passed by Parliament last year amidst considerable hoopla due to the controversial changes it brought to the Election Act.  While many of the changes garnered national media coverage (such as the new ID requirements and the diminished powers of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada), a new provision targeting misleading robocalls quietly made its way through the legislative process.

The Act creates a Voter Contact Registry and imposes new requirements for "voter contact calling services".  The intent is to curtail election fraud and voter suppression calls (i.e., the "Pierre Poutine" robocalls that mired the 2011 elections) and to facilitate their investigation.

Members (whether an individual or a corporation) that conduct public opinion surveys by phone during a federal election period should be aware that they may need to register the survey with the CRTC.

The broader positive implication is that the Government now has a new tool to penalize illegitimate calls made during an election period, thereby creating a better environment for legitimate calls.  As well, given that voter contact calls are registered, it could also serve as a tool to track push polls and Frugging calls (Fundraising Under the Guise of Research), thereby 'cleaning up' what is becoming a negative environment for respondents.

Here's what you should know about the new Voter Contact Registry:

(NOTE: The information provided below is intended to raise awareness of the new requirements of the Fair Elections Act.  As business practices may vary, MRIA recommends that members obtain their own legal counsel to ensure proper compliance with the Act and the new Voter Contact Registry requirements.)

  • ‚ÄčThe Registry applies to a broad range of campaign-related calls, including election surveys conducted by phone (live calls and IVR).  The Registry does not apply to surveys conducted online or by other means.
  • The new provisions will be triggered the moment the electoral writ drops (i.e., when elections are officially underway).
  • Persons, corporations, or groups that engage in "voter contact calling services"by phone during an election period will now need to file registration notices with the CRTC, provide identifying information, and keep copies of scripts and recordings used to make calls.
  • The Act also brings clarity to the definition of "election expense," adding among other expenditures "the conduct of election surveys or other surveys or research during an election period".
Scope and Definitions under the Fair Elections Act

'Voter contact calling services' are defined at Section 348.01 of the Fair Elections Actas "as services involving the making of calls during an election period for any purpose related to an election, including:

  • promoting or opposing a registered party, its leader, a candidate, or a nomination contestant, or any position on an issue with which such a party or person is associated;
  • encouraging electors to vote or to refrain from voting;
  • providing information about the election, including information about voting hours and the location of polling stations;
  • gathering information about how electors voted in past elections or will vote in the election or their views on a registered party, its leader, a candidate, or a nomination contestant, or any issue with which such a party or person is associated; and
  • raising funds for a registered party, a registered association, a candidate, or a nomination contestant."

Section 348.02 outlines who can enter into an agreement with a calling service provider:  "A person or group shall not enter into an agreement with a calling service provider for voter contact calling services unless:

  • the person or group is a registered party, a registered association, a nomination contestant or a registered third party, or an unregistered third party that is a corporation or group, and the agreement is entered into on behalf of the person or group by the person’s or group’s official representative;
  • the person is a candidate and the agreement is entered into in their own name or on their behalf by their official representative or by a person that their official representative has so authorized in writing; or
  • the person is an unregistered third party who is an individual and the agreement is entered into in their own name."

Section 348.01 provides other relevant definitions:

  • “group” means a registered party, registered association, unincorporated trade union, trade association or other group of persons acting together by mutual consent for a common purpose.
  • “registered third party” means a third party that is registered under section 353.
  • “third party” means a person or a group, other than a registered party, registered association, candidate or nomination contestant.
  • “calling service provider” means a person or group that carries on a business whose activities include the making of calls for or on behalf of another person or group.
Requirements

The new requirements are set out at Section 348 of the Fair Elections Act and are intended to bring transparency in how 'voter contact calling services' are procured and conducted.  Specifically:

Authority required to enter into agreement for services:

  • Agreements between a 'client' or a 'requestor of services' (such as a registered political party or media outlet) and a calling service provider (such as a private 'get-out-the-vote' call centre) are required and must be entered into by official representatives or someone who has written authorization to do so, using their own names.

Obligation to inform and to provide identification:

  • Before a person enters into an agreement with a calling service provider, that person must inform the service provider that the agreement is for voter contact calling services.  They must also provide them with their name, address and telephone number and a copy of a piece of identification.
  • Similarly, before a service provider enters into an agreement, they must obtain the 'client's' or 'requestor of services'' ID information outlined above and keep that record and the copy of the piece of ID for one year after the end of the election period.

Obligation to confirm nature of services and obligation to authorize:

  • Before the first call is made, the service provider must ask the 'client' whether such calls constitute 'voter contact calling services' as defined by the Act.
  • Before the first call is made, an official representative of the 'client' or someone who has written authorization to do so, must authorize the 'voter contact calling service' and provide their name, address and telephone number and a copy of a piece of identification.
  • Before the first call is made, the service provider must obtain the 'client's' ID information outlined above and keep that record and the copy of the piece of ID for one year after the end of the election period.

Obligation to file registration notice:

  • Calling service providers must file a registration notice with the CRTC no later than 48 hours after the first call is made. The notice needs to indicate the service providers' name, the 'client' or 'requestor of services' and the type of voter contact call being made.

Calling service provider — agreement:

  • Calling service providers need to keep, for three years following the end of an election period, a dated copy of each unique script used in live calls and a dated recording of each unique message conveyed by an ADAD (Automatic Dialing-Announcing Device).

 

NOTE: The information provided in this memo is a layman's interpretation of the Fair Elections Act.  As business practices may vary, MRIA recommends that members obtain their own legal counsel to ensure proper compliance with the Act and the new Voter Contact Registry requirements.