Tweeters say will flout Canada election blackout law

The Twitter homepage. Twitter users promised on Thursday to defy Canada's ban on tweeting election results before federal polls close on May 2

Twitter users promised on Thursday to defy Canada's ban on tweeting election results before federal polls close on May 2.

The Globe and Mail newspaper reported that officials from Elections Canada, the country's independent electoral body, met Thursday to discuss rules that prohibit the use of social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, to transmit federal election results before all polls close.

An Elections Canada official who spoke to AFP could not confirm the report, which set off an avalanche of criticism on Twitter.

"This is a Canadian version of a social media revolution," Tessie Sanci, a journalism student in Toronto tweeted.

"The blackout is unenforceable, due to (anonymity) of Twitter," wrote Camille Labchuk, a Green Party strategist in Toronto.

Author Robin Rowland, tweeted from Kitimat, British Columbia: "The Elections Canada ban is irrelevant. Watch for tweets."

Canada has a longstanding law against the "premature transmission" of voting results across time zones. The restriction, which forbids someone in eastern Canada from broadcasting local results, aims to prevent the influence of voters farther west who have not yet cast their ballots.

Canada, the world's second largest country, has six time zones.

Twitter and Facebook have become fast, easy ways for politically active Canadians to discuss election information.

The Federal Elections Act states that: "no person shall transmit the result or purported result of the vote in an electoral district to the public in another electoral district before the close of all of the polling stations in that other electoral district."

The clause has been in effect since 1938.

Penalties for violating the law could carry a fine of up to 25,000 Canadian dollars or up to five years in prison.