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This Act is current to May 16, 2018
See the Tables of Legislative Changes for this Act’s legislative history, including any changes not in force.

Electoral Reform Referendum 2018 Act

[SBC 2017] CHAPTER 22

Assented to November 30, 2017

Contents
1Definitions
2Referendum on electoral reform required
3Offence Act and Referendum Act do not apply
4Funding for opponent and proponent groups
5Referendum to be conducted by mail-in ballot
6Elections BC responsible for administration of referendum
7Results of referendum count
8Who may vote in referendum
9Duty if referendum is binding
10Penalties respecting misuse or non-repayment of funds
11Appropriation
12Regulations
13Repeals
14Commencement

Definitions

1   In this Act:

"chief electoral officer" has the same meaning as in the Election Act;

"financial agent" means a person who, on behalf of an opponent group or a proponent group, receives payments and contributions under this Act, incurs expenses and distributes any amount received;

"opponent group", in relation to the referendum, means an individual who or organization that

(a) opposes a proportional representation voting system, and

(b) is established as an opponent group in accordance with the regulations for the purpose of receiving payment under section 4;

"proponent group", in relation to the referendum, means an individual who or organization that

(a) supports a proportional representation voting system, and

(b) is established as a proponent group in accordance with the regulations for the purpose of receiving payment under section 4;

"referendum" means the referendum required to be conducted under section 2;

"voting package" means the set of materials, prescribed in the regulations, for the conduct of the referendum;

"voting system" means a system for electing members of the Legislative Assembly.

Referendum on electoral reform required

2   (1) A referendum respecting a proportional representation voting system must be conducted throughout British Columbia.

(2) For the referendum to be conducted, the Lieutenant Governor in Council must, by regulation,

(a) state the question or questions that will be put to the electorate at the referendum,

(b) specify the date on which distribution of the voting packages must commence, and

(c) specify the date on which voting in the referendum closes, which must be no later than November 30, 2018.

Offence Act and Referendum Act do not apply

3   (1) Section 5 of the Offence Act does not apply to this Act or the regulations.

(2) The Referendum Act does not apply to the referendum.

Funding for opponent and proponent groups

4   Subject to the regulations, the chief electoral officer may make payments, to be used for the purpose of opposing or supporting a proportional representation voting system, to financial agents acting on behalf of one or more opponent or proponent groups.

Referendum to be conducted by mail-in ballot

5   The referendum must be conducted by distribution of a voting package in accordance with the regulations.

Elections BC responsible for administration of referendum

6   The chief electoral officer is responsible for conducting the referendum in accordance with the regulations.

Results of referendum count

7   The chief electoral officer must

(a) report the result of the referendum to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, and

(b) announce the result of the referendum in a manner that the chief electoral officer considers will inform the electorate of that result.

Who may vote in referendum

8   (1) In order to vote in the referendum, an individual must

(a) be a Canadian citizen,

(b) be 18 years of age or older on the date on which voting in the referendum closes,

(c) have been a resident of British Columbia for at least 6 months immediately before the date on which voting in the referendum closes,

(d) be registered as a voter as defined in the Election Act or be qualified to register as a voter in the referendum in accordance with the regulations, and

(e) not be disqualified by the Election Act or any other enactment from voting in the referendum or be otherwise disqualified by law.

(2) Without limiting subsection (1) (e), the following individuals are not entitled to vote in the referendum:

(a) the chief electoral officer and the deputy chief electoral officer;

(b) an individual who is prohibited from voting under Part 12 of the Election Act.

Duty if referendum is binding

9   (1) The result of the referendum is binding on the government only if more than 50% of the validly cast ballots

(a) vote the same way on a question stated, if the question has the option of 2 answers, or

(b) are in favour of the same voting system, if a question has the option of more than 2 answers.

(2) If

(a) the result of the referendum is binding on the government in accordance with subsection (1), and

(b) the ballots referred to in that subsection are in favour of adopting a proportional representation voting system,

the government must take steps that the government considers necessary or advisable to implement the result of the referendum, including introducing the legislation needed to implement the proportional representation voting system in sufficient time for that voting system to be in place for a general election called on or after July 1, 2021.

Penalties respecting misuse or non-repayment of funds

10   (1) If, by regulation under this Act, a provision of the Election Act or the Recall and Initiative Act applies in relation to the use or repayment of payments made under section 4 of this Act, despite any penalty that would apply to a contravention of that provision under the Election Act or the Recall and Initiative Act, a person who contravenes the provision is liable on conviction to a fine of not more than $50 000 or to imprisonment for not more than 2 years, or both.

(2) A person who contravenes a provision of a regulation under this Act that relates to the use or repayment of payments made under section 4 is liable on conviction to a fine of not more than $50 000 or to imprisonment for not more than 2 years, or both.

Appropriation

11   Administrative costs of conducting the referendum, including payments made under section 4, must be paid out of the consolidated revenue fund.

Regulations

12   (1) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations referred to in section 41 of the Interpretation Act.

(2) Without limiting subsection (1), the Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations as follows:

(a) providing that specified provisions of the Election Act, the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act, the Recall and Initiative Act or the regulations under those Acts apply or do not apply to and in relation to the referendum;

(b) adapting any provisions of those Acts or regulations with changes that the Lieutenant Governor in Council considers necessary or advisable.

(3) Without limiting subsection (1) or (2), the Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations that the Lieutenant Governor in Council considers necessary or advisable respecting the referendum, including, without limitation, respecting

(a) the manner by which the referendum is to be conducted,

(b) voting in the referendum,

(c) counting the referendum vote,

(d) advertising in relation to the referendum, and

(e) the availability of information respecting the matters to be voted on.

(4) In making a regulation under subsection (3) (c), the Lieutenant Governor in Council may

(a) if a question that is stated for the referendum has the option of more than 2 answers, prescribe how to determine what voting system validly cast ballots are in favour of, and

(b) make different regulations for a question that has the option of 2 answers or a question that has the option of more than 2 answers.

(5) Without limiting subsection (1), (2) or (3), the Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations that the Lieutenant Governor in Council considers necessary or advisable

(a) for the purposes of payments made under section 4, including, without limitation, respecting

(i) the establishment of opponent groups or proponent groups,

(ii) the making of payments to financial agents and limits on payment,

(iii) the designation and duties of financial agents,

(iv) obligations, restrictions, limitations or conditions in relation to the holding, use and disbursement of payments received, and accounting and reporting in relation to payments received,

(v) liability of financial agents and principal officers or members of opponent groups or proponent groups for failing to comply with the requirements of the regulations,

(vi) requirements of financial agents to repay amounts that were not used by an opponent group or a proponent group, or amounts that the financial agent knew, or ought to have known, were used for a purpose or in a manner other than as permitted under the regulations,

(vii) the publication of any matter in relation to a payment made to opponent groups or proponent groups, and

(viii) applications to the court for relief from failing to comply with one or more requirements of a regulation made under this paragraph, and

(b) without limiting paragraph (a), respecting the making and receipt of payments and contributions, other than payments under section 4, and the incurring of expenses, in relation to the referendum by any individual or organization, including opponent groups and proponent groups, including, without limitation, respecting requirements of financial agents to pay amounts that were not used by an opponent group or a proponent group.

(6) A regulation made under the authority of subsection (5) (a) (vi) or (b) may provide that amounts that must be repaid or paid under that regulation constitute a debt due to the government by financial agents.

(7) Without limiting subsection (1), (2), (3) or (5), the Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations as follows:

(a) prescribing offences and penalties for failure to comply with the regulations;

(b) respecting any matter for which regulations are contemplated by this Act;

(c) conferring a discretion on the chief electoral officer.

Repeals

13   (1) The Electoral Reform Referendum 2009 Act, S.B.C. 2008, c. 9, is repealed.

(2) The following regulations are repealed:

(a) the Referendum Regulation, B.C. Reg. 384/90;

(b) the Electoral Reform Referendum Regulation, B.C. Reg. 47/2005;

(c) the Electoral Reform Referendum 2009 Act Regulation, B.C. Reg. 266/2008;

(d) the HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) Referendum Regulation, B.C. Reg. 68/2011;

(e) the Plebiscite 2015 (Regional Transportation System Funding) Regulation, B.C. Reg. 21/2015.

Commencement

14   This Act comes into force on the date of Royal Assent.