Reporting the Canadian Election Results

What would happen in B.C. if voters in Canada's east tweeted and Facebooked their results? There is a lot of hoopla surrounding  reporting Canadian election results in the age of social media. Here is the issue boiled down: the East Coast finishes voting before the West Coast, and if results from the east are known before votes are cast in the west, this could affect if and how folks in the west vote.

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What would happen in B.C. if voters in Canada’s east tweeted and Facebooked their results?

There is a lot of hoopla surrounding  reporting Canadian election results in the age of social media. Here is the issue boiled down: the East Coast finishes voting before the West Coast, and if results from the east are known before votes are cast in the west, this could affect if and how folks in the west vote.

Elections Canada forbids anyone, including news outlets, from reporting results until the polls are closed all across Canada under threat of $25,000 fine. With its global reach, the Internet has made this as ridiculous as Lou Bega releasing a “Best of” CD.

But does it really matter? No.

Elections Canada implements staggered voting hours (see chart above) and gives an extra special stagger to the Eastern Time Zone, which has Ontario and Quebec totaling 59 per cent of the entire seats in the Canadian Parliament.

In short, 10 per cent of the country finishes voting with 2.5 hours remaining in B.C., and 88 per cent of votes are in with only 30 minutes left in B.C. voting. Then the votes have to be counted.

If you were going to vote, you have voted by the time 30 minutes remain in the vote. There is no way to mobilize the numbers required to “strategically” vote (meaning vote in a way you may not traditionally vote in order to topple the sitting government) based on eastern results with 30 minutes remaining in B.C. voting.

The only real strategic vote in this election is in the hands of Quebec. That is, do not vote Bloc, vote NDP so that the Liberals and NDP can form a Coalition Government without the need of partnering with the separatists.

If this is the only possible play, then tweeting out election results from Atlantic Canada and Newfoundland into Quebec to defeat a party (the Bloc) that is only in Quebec is moot. As polls have suggested, the mood and desire of the voters to move in this direction is happening now – NOT because of knowing the results of eastern provinces.

Sharing the known voting results via social media will have zero motivating effect on voters in B.C. There is simply no time, nor any desire to change one’s vote due to the outcome in another part of the country.