Full respect for the Election Act
The National Assembly recently increased many of the fines for offences against the provisions governing voting, political party financing and the control of election expenses. The increases were triggered by a variety of circumstances, and clearly illustrate the importance ascribed by the National Assembly to the Election Act.
A brief review of the penal provisions contained in the Election Act shows that most of the fines had not been changed for ten years or more, and in some cases for more than 20 years. Given the time that has elapsed since the last round of increases, it was therefore appropriate to increase the fines in order to encourage compliance with the law.
Three acts concerning political party financing were passed in December 2010, and at the same time the severity of the fines applicable to certain offences was increased significantly. Other penal provisions relating to the role of the representative and official agent, election expenses and solicitation of political contributions were not reviewed at that time. However, the other fines stipulated by law clearly needed to be brought up to date, for the sake of consistency.
General elections will be held in Québec in the next two years. Most of the offences that have been reviewed relate to polls in general and electors in particular (exercise of the right to vote, management of the list of electors, access to voting places). However, to ensure compliance with the Act during the next elections, it is also appropriate to update the penalties applicable to offences relating to polls.
Some examples of increased fines
Relating to polls
Entering, on the permanent list of electors or on a list of electors, the name of a person who is not entitled to have his or her name entered (551.1 EE)
Using or communicating any information relating to electors, to a person not legally entitled thereto (551.1.1)
Offering oneself as a candidate knowing that one is disqualified, supporting a nomination paper when one is not an elector whose name is entered on the list of electors, falsely claiming to know the persons whose names appear on the nomination papers (552 EE)
Voting more than once at the same election, voting without being entitled to vote (553.1 EE)
Falsifying a statement of votes or destroying a ballot paper before the end of the period prescribed by law (554 EE)
Failing to grant four consecutive hours to an elector in order to vote on polling day, or acting in such a way that an employee refuses to become an election officer (556 EE)
Attempting to influence the vote of an elector by promising or granting a gift or other benefit, and voting or refraining from voting for a candidate in exchange for a gift or other benefit (558 EE)
Relating to financing
As an official agent, authorizing election expenses exceeding the maximum permitted by law, filing a false report, producing a false or falsified voucher (559 EE)
As an official representative, filing a false report, producing a false or falsified voucher (559.0.1 EE)
As a political party leader, allowing an election expense to be incurred or paid for otherwise than as permitted by law (560 EE)
Soliciting or collecting contributions, incurring expenses without holding authorization from the Chief Electoral Officer (561 EE)