Canada should outlaw sharing disinformation about voting process - report

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(Reuters) - Canada should make it illegal to knowingly spread disinformation about the voting process and also attempts to undermine a legitimate election result, the nation's elections administrator said in a report on Tuesday.

In the report sent to the House of Commons, Chief Electoral Officer Stephane Perrault made many recommendations aimed at improving the electoral process by combating disinformation and hate speech against targeted groups, as well as preventing foreign funding and interference.

Perrault said his recommendation about disinformation - or deliberate deception - pertains to a narrow category of misleading statements about the voting process and results, such as telling people the wrong location to cast a ballot.

"It has to be deliberate, it has to be for the purpose of undermining trust in the process or the result," Perrault said.

A government spokesman had no immediate comment when asked if the recommendations would be adopted.

Perrault also recommended that organizations that a court determines promotes hatred against identifiable groups - such as those distinguished by race, religion or sexual orientation - should not be recognized as a political party.

To limit the chance of foreign funds influencing elections and to make political financing more transparent, Perrault proposed banning untraceable political donations, such as those made through money orders and gift cards.

He also recommended that federal political parties keep a record of all contributions received in cryptocurrencies.

Canada's Chief Electoral Officer is required by law to offer such recommendations after general elections and the latest report was drafted after the 2019 general election and the snap elections of 2021.

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Ottawa; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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