The overwhelming majority of Canberrans want laws to guard against inaccurate or misleading political advertising, new research has revealed.
Almost 90 per cent of respondents to a poll commissioned by progressive think tank the Australia Institute want truth in political advertising laws passed in the ACT.
The Australia Institute has been calling for the ACT to follow South Australia's lead and introduce laws which seek to stamp out the use of factually incorrect material by political parties and candidates.
The ACT Greens have drafted laws to amend the territory's electoral act to outlaw false material during local elections, but time is running out for them to be debate and passed before the October 17 ballot.
There are just three sitting days remaining in this parliamentary term - August 13, 20 and 27.
The campaign will be strengthened by the results of the uComms poll, which showed overwhelming support for the introduction of truth in political advertising laws from voters across the political spectrum.
Those identifying as Greens voters were the strongest advocates (93 per cent in favour), followed by Labor (90.6) and Liberal (83.9).
"These results shows overwhelming community support for robust truth in political advertising laws," the think tank's executive director, Ben Oquist, said.
"While election campaigning by its very nature will always be strong and robust, it should not be perfectly legal to lie in a political advertisement.
"Political advertisements that are deceptive and misleading interfere with the public's ability to make informed decisions. Without action and regulation, we risk a democratic crisis and election campaigns risk sliding into a free-fall of fake news."
Asked who should adjudicate on whether an ad was false or misleading, one third of the 1049 respondents said Elections ACT should be the independent umpire, while 30 per cent said magistrates or judges should have that responsibility.
As for penalties, about 34 per cent said the guilty party or candidate should be forced to publish a retraction at their own expense. About a quarter of respondents believed that those responsible for publishing misleading or inaccurate ads should lose some public funding, while 20 per cent wanted criminal penalties to be on the table.
Elections ACT poured cold water on a Greens push to introduce truth in political advertising laws in 2017, arguing numerous inquiries into the idea had found it to be "unworkable" and vulnerable to exploitation.
The ACT's electoral commission is making some effort to crackdown on misinformation ahead of October's ballot, launching a campaign calling on voters to check the source of material to help them decide if it can be trusted.
But Mr Oquist wants the ACT to go further and legislate against false advertising.
"Around the world, democracies are struggling to adjust to a world full of disinformation. How to address this challenge will be a defining issue of our age," he said.
"As the nation's capital, the ACT has the opportunity to play a leadership role in this regard.
"The time is ripe for truth in political advertising laws that are constitutional, uphold free speech, but introduce a measure of fairness and accountability to the political process."