Enforcement and penalties
Enforcement of the Municipal Elections Act, 1996 is done through the courts. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing does not have a role in investigating elections or in determining penalties.
If you are an eligible voter and you feel that the election was not valid (either the election of a specific candidate or candidates, or the entire election), you can apply to the Superior Court of Justice to determine whether the election was valid. The application must be made within 90 days after voting day.
Any person can begin court proceedings against a person, trade union or corporation who they believe committed an offence in relation to an election. Only the court can decide whether the person, trade union or corporation is guilty of committing an offence, and only the court may determine the penalty.
It is an offence to do, or attempt to do, any of the following:
- vote if you are not an eligible elector
- vote more times than you are permitted to vote
- vote in a voting place where you are not entitled to vote
- persuade a person who is not an eligible elector to vote
- cast a vote yourself after you have appointed a proxy
- vote as a proxy if the person who appointed you has cancelled the appointment, become ineligible to vote or died
- give a ballot to someone if you are not authorized to do so
- switch the ballot you were given with a different piece of paper to be placed in the ballot box
- take a ballot away from the voting place
- handle a ballot box or ballots if you are not authorized to do so
- bribe a person (using money, valuables, or offers of office or employment) to vote a certain way or to not vote at all, or give someone else money so that they can bribe the person
- accept a bribe to vote a certain way or to not vote at all
- bribe a person to become a candidate, decide to not become a candidate, or withdraw from being a candidate
It is also an offence to break the rules relating to campaign finance – for example, to make a contribution without being eligible to do so, to contribute more than the limit or to contribute money that is not yours.
If a person is convicted of committing an offence, they may be subject to the following penalties:
- a fine of up to $25,000
- ineligibility to vote or run in the next regular election
- up to six months in prison
If a corporation or trade union is convicted of committing an offence, they may be subject to a fine of up to $50,000.
These penalties would be determined by the court.