As polling continues across the country we are seeing more evidence of the problems Canadians have with Section 329, the law which prohibits Canadians from exposing election results before all polls across the country have closed. The twitter hashtag #tweettheresults is fast becoming one of the most controversial trends during this election. This is a twitter hashtag added to tweets claiming to broadcast the election results, as polls close across Eastern Canada. Just within the last few hours we have seen more than 2,000 tweets sent through twitter with this hashtag and climing. With this hashtag Canadians are finding ways to circumvent sec 329 of Canadian election law, by emailing election results to their friends abroad, mostly in America and Australia, who tweet these results with little or no legal implications for them. Because of this law tweettheresults.ca, a website collecting all tweets with this hashtag, has been shut down by the Canadian government, to prevent election results from getting out before the last poll closes in B.C. Some tweeters are even linking to pictures of tv broadcast results to show that their claims are serious. This serves to separate them from the many tweeters who are posting suspect numbers about election results.
To get around any repercussions of tweeting actual election results, some Canadians are using fruits to represent the parties on twitter. Tweeting how many seats the ‘strawberries’ have in Atlantic Canada, for example, represents how many liberal seats have been won in this region. Likewise blueberries are used to represent the conservatives, and oranges the NDP. Although this may be a clever way around the law most twitter users don’t seem shy about clearly expressing election results without the use of such metaphors. The overwhelming numbers of tweeters willing to risk the $25,000 fine associated with breaking Section 329, is further proof that the Canadian government will need to address this law for future elections, which will no doubt continue to be influenced heavily by Canadians on social media and online networks.