A new Canadian law has been put in place to allow citizens to discuss election results on Twitter or blogs before all the polls close across the country.
The new law will replace a 1938 law that prevented anyone from broadcasting election results before the last poll closed on the West coast. This meant that Torontonians couldn’t discuss their local election results until Vancouver’s polls closed, usually about 3+ hours after their own polls had closed.
If this law sounds a bit dated, that’s because it is. And Canadian lawmakers believed so too.
The purpose was initially to prevent voting results from polls that closed earlier to influence the voting decisions of those who have yet to visit their local polls.
As paidContent.org reports, the Canadian Supreme Court upheld this 1938 law as recently as 2007 when it fined a Vancouver blogger $1,000 for blogging East coast election results before his own polls had closed.
However, in May 2011 Canada had another election – and internet users were very vocal about their disdain for the 1938 law this time around. A website called “Tweet the Results” was established to encourage Canadians to use the hashtag #tweettheresults and tweet the results of the polls in their areas. Hundreds got on board, and none ended up with a fine.
This show of solidarity was likely a key part in influencing the Canadian government’s decision to scrap the law that would have seen all of these individuals fined. The announcement of the new legislation was tweeted by Canadian minister Tim Uppal late last week: