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Electronic voting

During a period extending from 1995 to 2005, Québec municipalities had the possibility of using "electronic voting" machines during municipal elections.

For the municipality, this meant passing a resolution for this purpose and then entering into an agreement dealing with "new methods of voting" with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and the Directeur général des élections du Québec. In fact, this agreement replaced certain provisions of the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities and permitted the use of machines supplied by service providers having signed contracts with the municipalities. Electronic voting was under the full responsibility of the municipality and the returning officer in charge of administering the election.

Two types of "voting machines" were commonly used:

  • Electronic ballot boxes, the purpose of which was to count ballot papers. Electors voted on a paper ballot, which was then inserted in the machine. At the end of the poll, the tabulating machine produced a count that could be validated, if necessary, by recounting the ballot papers.
  • Voting terminals, which made it possible to record the votes of electors in addition to counting them. In this case, electors exercised their right to vote by pressing buttons, which was supposed to allow the unit to record the choice. At the end of the election, the terminal generated a report with the vote count. When this type of terminal was used, it was virtually impossible to confirm the results of the elections by recounting the votes.

During the 2005 municipal general elections, 75 municipalities had chosen to use electronic ballot boxes, whereas 58 had opted for voting terminals.

November 6, 2005 general elections

During the November 6, 2005 general elections, there were major problems with electronic voting. Some municipalities experienced machine breakdowns and had difficulty obtaining repair services. Due to these operational deficiencies, some results were made public only after major delays, with a few candidates having to wait until the day after the election to obtain confirmation of their election.

Moratorium and evaluation of electronic voting by the Directeur général des élections du Québec

Following these problems, we informed, in January 2006, all Québec municipalities that we would no longer sign, until further notice, memoranda of understanding permitting the use of electronic voting. Moreover, we informed the Minister of Municipal Affairs that long-term agreements had been signed by a number of municipalities. In principle, the municipalities in question could continue to use electronic voting for their elections, despite the moratorium imposed. Bill no. 55, which was passed and assented to on December 14, 2006, invalidated these agreements and resulted in it no longer being legally possible to resort to "voting machines".

To this day, the moratorium on the use of electronic voting continues.

In addition to imposing this moratorium, we made a vast evaluation of the use of electronic voting and voting by mail, the conclusions of which were made public on October 24, 2006. After making an assessment, we imposed demanding conditions in the event that electronic voting were to be maintained.

The Evaluation Report of New Methods of Voting may be consulted (in French)