Fair Elections Act
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:
These factors will be applied with a view to promote compliance, and not to punish non-compliance.
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.)
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:
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:
Section 348.01 provides other relevant definitions:
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:
Obligation to inform and to provide identification:
Obligation to confirm nature of services and obligation to authorize:
Obligation to file registration notice:
Calling service provider — agreement:
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.
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