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Blogger Parker Donham facing fine for ballot tweet

Parker Donham, a Nova Scotia political blogger, has tweeted himself into some controversy after posting a picture of his advance ballot on the social media website.

Donham could be fined up to $5K for violating Elections Act

Shortly after tweeting his marked ballot, Elections Nova Scotia responded saying Donham violated the elections act. (Twitter)

Parker Donham, a Nova Scotia political blogger, has tweeted himself into some controversy after posting a picture of his advance ballot on the social media website.

Shortly after Donham tweeted a picture of his marked ballot, Elections Nova Scotia responded by saying he had violated the Elections Act.

Dana Doiron, the spokesman for Elections Nova Scotia, said the matter has been passed on to the RCMP.

"It is a serious matter, it's an offence under the act and we enforce the act — that's our job. We can't pick and choose which parts of the act we're going to enforce," said Doiron.  

He said the rules clearly state that a recording device cannot be used in a polling stations and that's something everyone should be aware of.

"It's important to know that the vast majority of people going to vote will probably have a phone with camera capability. What we're asking people to do — and that's why we have signs in the polls — is to keep them in your pocket. Keep them on vibrate or shut them off because it's an offence to use them in a polling place," he said.  

Doiron said Donham could be fined up to $5,000.  

The Election Act states: "With the exception of election officers as prescribed by the Chief Electoral Officer, none of the persons present in a polling location during voting hours shall use a recording or communication device."

Donham became a well-known political commentator during the 15 years he spent on CBC Television holding weekly, and often heated, political debates with co-panelist Harry Flemming.

Donham said he doesn't believe the act specifically prohibits what he did.  

"I certainly didn't intend to violate the law and now that I've read the law, I don't believe I did. I was trying to make an important political point to electors in Victoria-The Lakes," Donham said.

"I don't believe that in the ordinary meaning of a recording device, that's what I was using. I used a camera. If you're not supposed to use a camera in a polling station, the law should say so, clearly. Especially when it's limiting political speech which is at the very core of free speech in our society."

Donham said he understands why the law might make taking pictures illegal but he doesn't believe that’s clear in the act.

"I don't lightly court a $5,000 fine — which is the maximum I could receive — but there are a lot of things that would have to happen before that," he said.

"I think it's a little bit of scare tactics. If the legislature wants this behaviour to be illegal, they should make it clearly illegal."

The election is on Tuesday.

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