General Local Elections

General local elections in B.C. are held every four years on the third Saturday in October. The next general local elections will be held on Saturday, October 20, 2018.

General local elections (and by-elections) are the most direct way for the public to influence their local government, school district or other local governance body by determining the individuals who then make decisions and govern on their behalf following general voting day.

General local elections include elections for municipal councils, regional district electoral areas, boards of education, specified parks boards, local community commissions and the Islands Trust.

During the election process, candidates generally outline their platforms and objectives if they were to be elected. By choosing the candidates with the ideals and qualities that are most acceptable to the electors, citizens can directly influence the nature of the community where they reside or own property.

Election Administration

The administration of general local elections and by-elections is a shared responsibility between local governments and Elections BC. Each local government is responsible for running its own general local election. Local governments may also run school trustee elections on behalf of boards of education.

Elections BC is responsible for the administration of the provincial electoral process in B.C. and the campaign financing and third party advertising rules under the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act.

The B.C. government is responsible for the core local government system and its legislative framework including maintaining and changing the framework for local elections, by-elections and assent voting events.

Local Elections Legislation

Election Participants

Electors (voters), candidates, financial agents, scrutineers, volunteers, third party sponsors, elector organizations, local Chief Election Officers and Elections BC are the key participants in the local election process.

Election Process

Local governments are required to follow a legislated process when conducting general local elections.

Voter Eligibility & Voting

In B.C., residents and property owners who meet the voter eligibility requirements for a local jurisdiction can vote on general voting day, at an advance voting opportunity or by mail ballot voting if offered by the local government. There is no corporate or business vote in local elections.

Running for Local Office

Residents of B.C. who are interested in running for office in a general local election must meet certain requirements to be nominated for and hold office if elected. In addition, how elected officials conduct themselves as individuals, and collectively as part of a decision-making body, is key to carrying out their responsibilities and providing good governance to their communities.

Provincial legislation sets out residency and nomination requirements, the nomination process, public access to nomination documents, how candidates may run their election campaigns and conduct election advertising as well as campaign financing recording and disclosure rules and certain campaign financing restrictions.

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Elector Organizations & Endorsements

Elector organizations endorse candidates and run election campaigns to promote a candidate, group of candidates or a point of view by endorsing candidates on the ballot or by advertising for or in conjunction with candidates. Elector organizations are occasionally referred to as "civic political parties".

Elector organizations must meet membership requirements, appoint official representatives and are subject to campaign financing and election advertising rules under the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act.

Election Offences

General local election offences fall into one of two categories: general election offences committed under the Local Government Act (or the Vancouver Charter for elections in the City of Vancouver); and, campaign financing offences committed under the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act.

General election offences are usually investigated by law enforcement agencies while campaign financing offences are managed through Elections BC.

2018 General Local Election Calendar

During general local elections, there are specific dates when a local government is required to take action such as posting a notice of the election, holding advance voting opportunities, counting ballots and declaring the election results.

Other election participants, such as candidates, are required to submit their nomination documents and file campaign financing disclosure statements by specific dates. Third party sponsors and elector organizations are also required to submit information such as campaign financing disclosure statements or endorsing candidates on the ballot on or before certain dates during and following the general local elections.

The general local election calendar outlines some of the key legislative dates for the 2018 general local election