PEI·PEI VOTES

Elections P.E.I. keeping an eye on signs near polling stations

Elections P.E.I. has responded to two separate complaints about registered party signs being placed too close to two different polling stations.

Only 2 signs have been found in violation of the election act

The Election Act says that people are not allowed to have registered party signs within 200 feet (60 metres) of a polling station. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Elections P.E.I. has responded to two separate complaints about registered party signs being placed too close to two different polling stations.

According to Section 134(c) of P.E.I.'s Election Act, no party materials can be placed within 200 feet (60 metres) of a polling station.

"It's a rule that's been in the Election Act for some time," said Tim Garrity, chief electoral officer for the province.

"It's just something historically there to allow people to go and vote without getting all the political signs getting to them right as they are walking into the location."

Chief Electoral Officer Tim Garrity says they follow the Election Act to ensure it is a level field for all of the registered parties. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Thursday was the last of three advance voting days. Garrity said that they only had the complaints about two locations to check on.

One was about a Liberal sign too close to the polling station front doors in Charlottetown-Victoria Park and the other was a Progressive Conservative sign within 200 feet of the doors in Charlottetown-West Royalty.

Slightly inside the 200 feet

"They actually measure it off themselves usually and I think they were just a little bit incorrect in some of their measurements," Garrity said. "One was a few feet and the other was about 20 feet a little bit too close."

He said they called up and both parties responded immediately by moving the signs the correct distance from the polling location.

If we need to push it and need to go further, we will absolutely do that but we just don't want to be 100 per cent heavy handed.—Tim Garrity

Garrity said they prefer to work with the parties and usually the rules are followed. He said they would only escalate the warning to an official offence if the party doesn't rectify the situation in a timely fashion.

Under the Elections Act, Garrity said they could technically report the violations to police which could lead to fines or even jail time.

Warnings enough of a deterrent

"If we need to push it and need to go further, we will absolutely do that but we just don't want to be 100 per cent heavy handed," Garrity said.

"These are being put up by volunteers and they are doing their best and they are out in the cold and the rain to get them up."

Election officials would measure the 200 feet (60 metres) from the main doors of the polling station. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Election officials do measure the distances sometimes, to ensure that all parties are following the Election Act.

"We will just kind of tie it off to the handle of the door and walk off the two hundred feet and if it's within that distance we just call the party right away. And like I said they've been nothing but co-operative in getting them moved."

Garrity said he hopes the parties will be diligent to ensure no more signs are within the boundary.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Steve Bruce

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