There are no restrictions on how much money candidates for District Education Council elections may spend on campaigning, and no requirements for filing any statements of donations received or money spent. However, there are some restrictions on campaign activity:
No Use of School Resources: No school or school system or Department of Education and Early Childhood Development resources may be used to support any individual candidate or group of candidates for a District Education Council election.
Restricted advertising period:
The Municipal Elections Act provides:
55(2) Any person who, on the ordinary polling day or on the day immediately preceding it,
(a) broadcasts over any radio or television station,
(i) a speech,
(ii) any entertainment, or
(iii) any advertising program; or
(b) publishes or causes to be published in any newspaper, magazine or similar publication,
(i) a speech, or
(ii) any advertising; or
(c) transmits, conveys or causes to be transmitted or conveyed by any means to telephones, computers, telecopier machines or any other device capable of receiving unsolicited communications,
(i) a speech,
(ii) any entertainment, or
(iii) any advertising;
in favour of or on behalf of any candidate commits an offence, but this subsection shall be deemed not to prohibit a bona fide news broadcast or news publication referring to or commenting upon a speech or containing any excerpts from a speech.
Examples of unsolicited communications under paragraph (c) would include SPAM emails, Robocalls, mass faxes, etc.
Note that these provisions do not prevent a candidate’s campaign from distributing printed materials in person or by Canada Post during the restricted advertising period, nor does it prevent additional signs from being placed in the electoral district.
Use of social media during the restricted advertising period: In the case of a Twitter account held by a candidate, the candidate may post a “tweet” on their account. Persons “following” the candidate then receive an electronic “newsfeed” of the tweet for their information. Since the “followers” have already requested such notifications from the candidate, any such communication would be considered to be solicited communications and, therefore, not prohibited by subsection 55(2) of the Municipal Elections Act.
Similarly, in the case of a Facebook account held by a candidate, the candidate has “friends” who have agreed to send and receive messages with the candidate. As a result, any communication between the candidate and these “friends” are also deemed to be solicited communications. Accordingly, messages posted on the Facebook page would generally not be prohibited by the Municipal Elections Act.
Using social media is generally considered to be “solicited communication” and, thus, may occur during the restricted advertising period. On the other hand, paid advertising on social media is considered to be unsolicited communications and, thus, is prohibited during the restricted advertising period.
Election Day: On election day no advertising or campaigning of any kind may be done on or from any moving motor vehicle. In addition, there may be no advertising or campaign material of any kind placed within thirty metres (100 feet) of any premises in which a polling station is located. “Polling station” means a building, or a portion of a building, secured by a municipal returning officer for the taking of the votes of electors on the ordinary polling day or an advance polling day. Candidates and one appointed scrutineer per polling station - but not their other agents, representatives or family members -- are allowed to be in any poll at any time on any polling day (ordinary or advance), as long as they do not engage in any kind of campaigning or interfere with voters or the polling process.
Advance Poll Days: There may be no advertising or campaign material within thirty metres (100 feet) of the premises in which an advance poll is being held. In addition, any advertising or campaigning using loudspeakers from a motor vehicle must not be able to be heard within thirty metres of the premises where an advance poll is being held.
Printed Advertising: All election signs, posters, handbills or other printed materials must include the name and address of the printer and publisher (if someone other than the candidate) on the face of the document. It is an offence to not include this information.
Placement of Election Signs: The Department of Transportation controls where or if signs may be placed on highway rights-of-way. Under the Highway Advertisements Regulation-Highway Act, election signs are not permitted on Level I and Level II access controlled highways (four-lane or two-lane). However, they are permitted within the highway right-of-way of other highways. In the interest of safety, any signs that are attached to a DOT sign, guard rail or bridge, installed within the median, or installed such that they reduce sight lines or visibility, will be removed immediately.
Municipalities may also have sign by-laws that control where or when election signs may be placed.
Both Aliant and NB Power ask candidates not to use utility poles to post campaign signs. While the practice may seem harmless, there are some potential safety concerns:
- The signs themselves present a safety hazard for employees who must climb poles to complete their work;
- The metal staples or clamps used to put up the signs often remain in the poles long after the election is over. These items could cause an employee to lose his or her footing while climbing and could also be a hazard for the general public who may happen to brush the pole while walking by.
- Staples or clamps will cause a pole to degrade faster than it should, therefore making them more susceptible to damage, requiring maintenance or possibly replacement.
No Media at the Polls: No media representatives are allowed in any polling stations in respect of District Education Council elections.
Voters’ Lists (Section 12.1(2) of the Municipal Elections Act)
Using form M 04 101, Application for a Copy of the List of Electors, once a candidate’s nomination papers have been accepted, a candidate may purchase a copy of the voters’ lists for his or her subdistrict or electoral zone from the Municipal Returning Officer for a fee of $0.02 + HST per name on the list. Voters’ lists are subject to the protection of privacy policies of the Province, and may be used only for election purposes. Any other use of a list, including any use of a list after the election is over, is an offence under the Municipal Elections Act.
A District Education Council candidate may appoint one qualified voter in the school district to be a scrutineer at each polling station (including advance polls), to be present while the votes are cast and counted. Scrutineers are not paid by the Province, and there must not be more than one scrutineer for a candidate at a polling station at any time. A scrutineer must be appointed in writing, using the Appointment of Scrutineer form.
Reporting Results and Declarations of Election
Voting results determined and reported after the polls close on election day are “unofficial results”. On the second day following the election, the Returning Officer will determine the official number of votes for each candidate and any plebiscite question, and declare the official results of the elections by completing a Declaration After the Poll Has Been Taken for each election for which the returning officer is responsible. A copy of the Declaration will be given or mailed to each candidate and the original returned to Elections NB.
If there is a tie in the number of votes for two or more candidates for the same office, the Municipal Returning Officer will recount the votes cast for such candidates in the presence of not less than two qualified voters (normally the affected candidates) and declare a winner.
If the vote remains tied after the recount, if the candidates agree, the Municipal Returning Officer will resolve the tie by putting the two names in a box and drawing one out, with the candidate whose name is drawn being declared elected. If the candidates do not agree on this method to resolve the tie, the Municipal Returning Officer will make a request to a judge for a recount.
Initial Recounts at the Municipal Returning Office
If there is a difference of not more than twenty-five votes between the votes for a candidate elected and a candidate not elected, the candidate who was not declared elected may apply to the Municipal Returning Officer for a recount of the votes. The application must be filed within ten days after the election. There is no charge for such a recount.
If this recount results in a tied vote, if the candidates agree, the Municipal Returning Officer will resolve the tie by putting the two names in a box and drawing one out, with the candidate whose name is drawn being declared elected. If the candidates do not agree on this method to resolve the tie, the Municipal Returning Officer will make a request to a judge for a recount.
If the returning office recount does not result in a tie, and the candidates agree on the results, the Municipal Returning officer shall either confirm the initial Declaration of Election, if the result (in terms of the candidate elected) has not changed, or issue a new Declaration of Election if the recount determines that a different candidate was elected.
If the returning office recount does not result in a tie, and the candidates do not agree on the results, the candidate not declared elected may apply for a judicial recount. The candidate may request a recount of all the ballots cast, or a recount only of ballots on which the candidates could not agree as to whether or how they should be counted.
A candidate who has participated in a recount at the Municipal Returning Office but is not satisfied with the results, or a candidate who has lost an election by more than twenty-five votes but has reasons to believe the results as reported may not be correct, may apply to a judge of The Court of Queen’s Bench for a judicial recount. The application must be made within ten days of completion of the returning office recount or within ten days of the election, as applicable. The candidate may request a recount of all the ballots cast, or a recount only of ballots on which the candidates could not agree as to whether or how they should be counted.
If satisfied that there is reason to hold a recount, the judge will notify the affected candidates and election officials, and the recount will be conducted as soon as possible, normally within two weeks of the election. If the final result is a tie, it will be resolved by drawing one of the candidate’s names out of a box.
Where the recount changes the election results so that a different candidate is declared elected than was originally declared elected, the costs of the recount are paid by Elections New Brunswick. If the recount does not change the candidate declared elected, the costs of the recount are paid by the candidate requesting the recount.