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The Globe and Mail

Ottawa lifts blackout on election-night results

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff watches election results roll in with his wife Zsuzsanna Zsohar on May 2, 2011.

Paul Chiasson/Paul Chiasson//The Canadian Press

The Conservative government says it will allow federal election results to be released as they are available instead of making Canadians across the country wait for the last polls to close on the West Coast.

Tim Uppal, the Minister of State for Democratic Reform, announced on Friday via Twitter that the government will stop penalizing people who report results from the east before the final votes are cast in British Columbia.

Mr. Uppal also used Twitter to forewarn of his announcement.

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Then, two minutes later, he tweeted that the government is committed to bringing Canadian elections into 21st century by introducing legislation to get rid of the dated ban on early transmission of election results.

"The ban, [enacted]in 1938, does not make sense with widespread use of social media and modern communications technology" Mr. Uppal wrote. "Canadians should have freedom to communicate about election results without fear of heavy penalty."

The purpose of the ban was to prevent Western Canadian voters from knowing results from the Atlantic Provinces before casting their ballots. There was a belief that an awareness of the way the election is shaping up could affect the decisions of West Coast voters – either by discouraging them from casting a ballot or by inspiring them to do so.

But the Internet has made the law impossible to police.

In 1996, voting hours were staggered across the country so voters in Western Canada can cast ballots before a national election is decided by more populous eastern provinces in earlier time zones.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Gloria Galloway has been a journalist for almost 30 years. She worked at the Windsor Star, the Hamilton Spectator, the National Post, the Canadian Press and a number of small newspapers before being hired by The Globe and Mail as deputy national editor in 2001. Gloria returned to reporting two years later and joined the Ottawa bureau in 2004. More

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