Do you need to register as a third party promoter for the election?

June 24, 2020

What is a third party promoter and why does this matter?

A third party promoter is someone, who is not a candidate or party, that seeks to influence how people vote at the election. There are some exceptions for people such as journalists.

At Franks Ogilvie, we don't agree that at such an important time - like an election - that your right to express your views should be curtailed. But unfortunately Parliament has decided that people seeking to share their view should be constrained.

Under Electoral law, you could incur heavy fines or be prosecuted for breach of the  Act if you tell people how to vote without making sure you have met your obligations.

Do you need to register as a third party promoter?

If you are an organisation that voices a political view, engages in activism or plans to put information out before the election on how to vote, you may need to register as a third party promoter. If you are just a person expressing your personal view, generally you don’t need to. But if you or your organisation is in anyway paid for this type of work, you will probably be caught by this provision.

What is an Electoral Advertisement?  

The definition of electoral advertisement is very broad. Section 3A(a) of Act, defines it as -

…advertisement in any medium that may reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading voters to do either or both of the following:
(i)               To vote, or not vote for a type of candidate described or indicated by reference to views or positions that are, or are not,held or taken (whether or not the name of the candidate is stated):
(ii)             To vote, or not to vote for a type of party described or indicated by reference to views or positions that are, or are not,held or taken (whether or not the name of the party is stated)

 

Most material put out by political parties and candidates are caught under this definition. But it also catches organisations that support a policy position or do a comparison between parties.

Do you need to register if you want to engage in election advertising?

You only need to register if you are planning on spending over $13,200 on election advertising. How you calculate your spending is defined in the Act. Spending can include things like what you spend on your email database during that time, not just traditional advertising like newspaper ads.

Registered promoters must collect and maintain records of all necessary returns on advertisement expenses.

What are your responsibilities if you don’t register?

Unregistered promoters still have obligations under the Act-

·       All promoters must not endorse a candidate or party with the permission of the candidate or party.

·       Advertisement expenses are capped at $13,200  during the regulated period

·       they must not enter into any agreement with anyone in order to circumvent this restriction

·       unregistered promoters must retain records necessary to ensure they have not exceeded the expense cap

 If an unregistered promoter exceeds the expense cap of$13,200 or any offence under section 204D  they could be referred to the Police by the Commission. It would be seen as an “illegal practice” and is punishable under section 224 with a fine up to $40,000.

How do I register?

You need to apply to the Electoral Commission through the forms on their website.

Want to know more? Contact Senior Consultant, Brigitte Morten for assistance.

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