Elections Canada issues warning over tweets and Facebook messages before polls close

OK. This is an official warning from Elections Canada: do not tweet or Facebook election results before the polls close in the west.

Committing such an act, or as the federal body stipulates, "premature transmission", could result in charges after the Supreme Court upheld the ban in 2007 that's designed to prevent voter apathy across Canada's six time zones.

But now that Twitter is burning up the information highway, there's a lot of talk about what could happen election night May 2. No one really knows for sure if vote results will leak out in tweets or not, a move that would violate the Elections Act.

As a result of Canada's size, polls in Atlantic Canada close earlier than polls on the West Coast, meaning results from Newfoundland and Labrador could unduly influence voters in Vancouver.

In the past, since Ontario and Quebec hold a majority of seats in the House of Commons, elections have been decided before the polls close in the west.

Elections Canada has formulated a "social media' policy as voting day gets closer:

"Results disseminated to an individual's friends through Facebook's email service would not be considered public transmission. However, results posted to a Facebook user's wall may be considered public transmission, including cases where the user's Facebook profile is public."

A spokesman for the election body said the same policy applies to Twitter.

In other words, be careful what you tweet and Facebook until all polls are closed across the country. Polls close at 7 p.m. PST and 9:30 p.m. EST.

(AFP Photo)