The Recall Process in British Columbia - Pamphlet


The Recall and Initiative Act allows voters in British Columbia to petition to remove a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) between elections.

The Application Process

An individual can apply to the Chief Electoral Officer for a petition for the recall of the Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for the electoral district in which the applicant is registered to vote. A Member cannot be recalled during the first 18 months after his or her election.

A registered voter who wants to start a recall petition must obtain an application from the Chief Electoral Officer. A completed application consists of a fully completed and signed application form, a 200 word, or less, statement of why, in the applicant�s opinion, the Member should be recalled, and a non-refundable $50 processing fee.

Approval in Principle

If the application is complete and meets the requirements of the Recall and Initiative Act, the Chief Electoral Officer notifies the proponent, the Member and the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly that approval has been granted and that a petition will be issued within seven days.The Recall and Initiative Act allows voters in British Columbia to propose new laws or changes to existing laws.

The Application Process

Any registered voter can apply to have a petition issued to gather support for a legislative proposal. A legislative proposal (or draft Bill) can be on any matter within the constitutional jurisdiction of the provincial Legislature.

Recall Petition Period

When a petition is issued to the proponent, the proponent has 60 days to collect signatures from 40 percent of the voters who were registered to vote in the Member�s electoral district at the last election, and who are currently registered as voters in British Columbia.

Canvasser Registration

A proponent may be helped by volunteers to gather signatures. The volunteers are called �canvassers�. Canvassers must be registered voters and must have been a resident of British Columbia for at least six months before the date on which they intend to begin canvassing. Registered voters may apply to be canvassers any time after the application is submitted to the Chief Electoral Officer.

Collecting Signatures on the Petition

A recall petition may only be signed by individuals who: An individual may only sign any one recall petition once, and their signature must be accompanied by their residential address at which the person is registered as a voter. All signatures must be witnessed by the individual who canvassed the signature (a registered canvasser).

Submitting Petition

The proponent must submit, at one time, all of the petition pages containing signatures to the Chief Electoral Officer. The petition period ends when the proponent submits the petition to the Chief Electoral Officer, regardless of whether the full 60 days have elapsed. If the petition is not received within 60 days, it fails.

Petition Verification

When a petition is submitted, the Chief Electoral Officer has 42 days to complete the verification process. The first stage of the verification process is a preliminary count of the signatures. This is to ensure that enough signatures have been obtained. If there are not enough signatures, the petition fails and the proponent and the Member are notified.

If there are enough signatures, the petition signatures are verified to ensure that the people who signed the petition were entitled to do so, and that the signatures on the petition match the signatures on file for those voters. Signatures that do not include the residential address of the voter who signed the petition will not be counted. The registration status of canvassers is also verified to ensure that signatures were gathered by authorized individuals.


If the verification process shows that sufficient valid signatures are on the petition, and the financing requirements have been met by the proponent, the Member ceases to hold office and a by-election must be called within 90 days. A recalled Member can be a candidate in the by-election.

Recall Financing and Communications

There are important financing rules that participants must follow regarding the disclosure and limits of expenditures and financial contributions permitted during the recall process.

Recall advertising can only be conducted by an authorized participant or a registered advertising sponsor.

Penalties for Recall Offences

It is very important that participants follow the provisions outlined in the legislation. Non-compliance can result in significant penalties, such as being fined up to $10,000 and/or being imprisoned for up to two years. In the case of a Member, the Member will also cease to hold office. In the case of a proponent, the recall petition fails.

Elections BC�s Role in the Process

Elections BC is the non-partisan administrator of the recall process. Elections BC ensures that the recall process is conducted in a fair and impartial fashion.

Home PageTop of page Updated 97/11/18