Election night results blackout a thing of the past

An old rule that prevented journalists from reporting any election results before all polls closed has been lifted in the age of social media.

Elections Canada lifts ban on publishing early election results

(Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Social media spoke, and Elections Canada listened.

The organization will no longer require media organizations to refrain from publishing election results as they roll in at different times across the country. 

Marie-France Kenny, regional media adviser for Elections Canada, said the change is due in part to social media. 

In the 2011 federal election, candidates were reminded to adhere to Elections Canada's broadcasting ban, preventing premature elections results from being distributed even over social media sites. (CBC)

"We noticed in the last election that people were tweeting results anyway, so social media was getting the information out there," she said.

In past years, news outlets couldn't publish results before voting stations closed in B.C.

Under the new rules, voters in Saskatchewan and farther west could potentially have results from Atlantic Canada before their polls close. 

The strategic vote

David Gerhard, associate professor of computer science at the University of Regina, said he doesn't think the changes will have large implications for most. They could, however, influence strategic voters.  

"The voters who are sort of on the far-west of the country, who are waiting until the end of the day to vote, might change their mind based on the results," Gerhard said. 

Gerhard said the new rules will also help journalists, who were held back by blackout rules that the social media sphere wasn't following last election. 

Having this rule revoked means that the journalists can play along with everybody else who is already sending this information along.– David Gerhard, associate professor of computer science

"If everybody is posting this information on social media, but the journalists are not, then it sort of means that the journalists are less relevant," he said. 

"Having this rule revoked means that the journalists can play along with everybody else who is already sending this information along." 

Kenny said the previous blackout rule was to prevent voters from being swayed by results in other regions.

But with the proliferation of social media, Kenny said, a blackout is no longer relevant..