A candidate for city councillor during Merritt’s 2022 local elections has been fined by Elections BC for failing to meet advertising guidelines in relation to their election signs. Elections BC issued six total administrative monetary penalties in relation to the 2022 local general elections.
Yvette Baxter was a candidate for council in the City’s recent elections, finishing in tenth place in a contentious 18 candidate council race. She has now been fined $100 by Elections BC for initially failing to display a candidate authorization statement on her election signs. Baxter said she believed the fine was unfair and likely the result of another candidate playing politics games, but signalled her intent to pay the penalty rather than have it reviewed.
“I don’t think it’s fair, but I’m just going to pay the fine,” Baxter told the Herald.
“I just picked up the cheque to pay the fine, and I’m just going to pay it and then run again in four years. I’ve learned that I have to make sure there’s a little sticker on every sign.”
A letter to Baxter from Elections BC’s Director of Investigations, Adam Barnes, found she had contravened section 44(1) of the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act (LECFA), and must pay the penalty of $100 to the Chief Electoral Officer of BC. Barnes said in his letter that Elections BC first received a complaint about Baxter’s advertising materials on September 21, 2022, which prompted their compliance team to reach out to her. Baxter said she was aware of the issue, and taking steps to rectify it using stickers. The signs were allegedly fixed within 12 hours.
Despite the quick remedy, the investigator’s preliminary findings determined the signs initially in violation of the LECFA were still used during the election campaign period, and Barnes was authorized to levy a penalty up to $5000. This amount was set at just $100 taking into consideration Baxter’s initiative to fix the signs before Elections BC had contacted her regarding the violation, and the fact she had never received a penalty under the LECFA prior to this incident.
The full report by ElectionsBC can be viewed online on their website.