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.
During the 2005 municipal general elections, 75 municipalities had chosen to use electronic ballot boxes, whereas 58 had opted for voting terminals.
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.
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".
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 two press releases issued at the time of the publication of the report and which provide a summary of the report may be consulted here: