Elections Canada and the Herd

Canadians chose their federal government yesterday.  As the results started rolling in last night, the CBC was quick to point out that the infamous Elections Canada results reporting blackout had, once again, been broken.  For those of you who are not familiar with the blackout law, it works something like this:

1.  Canada is a big country.  BIG.  When it’s noon in Newfoundland, it’s only 7:30 AM in Vancouver.  Or, perhaps more importantly, when the polls close on the east coast and the results start rolling in, there’s still lots of time left before the voting stops in the west.

2.  Apparently someone in Ottawa agrees with Mark Earls…. i.e. Us humans are awfully good at copying each other.  And, when it comes to voting, it seems our government would prefer we keep our own counsel rather than resort to Herd behaviour.

3.  To keep us all in line, Section 329 of the Canada Elections Act bans the transmission of election results from any electoral district where polls have closed to districts where the polls are still open.

What I find interesting in all of this isn’t how quickly the law was broken, but just how motivated we clearly are to work together as a Herd.  On twitter last night, there were more than a few Canadians from central and western Canada requesting the early election results.  And they found many fellow Canadians willing to help them out.  Our Herd nature was on full display – despite laws to the contrary.

Giving people stuff to do together isn’t just smart marketing – it feeds our shared desire to… well… share.  It’s just the way we’re built.  And sharing – in all its manifestations – is the precursor to copying…. the very thing Elections Canada is trying to (unsuccessfully) guard against.

Previously posted on

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