Québec City, March 22, 2014 – In recent days, information has been circulated that clearly shows a misconception on the part of some people regarding the procedure used to revise the lists of electors, and in particular regarding the notion of domicile. The Chief Electoral Officer has therefore produced information documents that will be distributed in order to help electors and boards of revisors to understand these aspects.
With regard to the reliability of the boards of revisors, the Chief Electoral Officer notes that their members are trained, are given directives to which they may refer for guidance, and are the only election officers who are required to take an examination before being appointed to their position by the returning officer. Once appointed, they form an independent authority and have full jurisdiction and competency to enter new electors on the lists of electors, make corrections to the lists, or strike names from the lists.
A core element of the notion of “qualified elector”: The notion of domicile
Section 1 of the Election Act stipulates that, to be a qualified elector, a person must have attained 18 years of age, be a Canadian citizen and have been domiciled in Québec for six months. However, the notion of domicile can be complex, and questions may be raised as to its interpretation.
Evidence of domicile is first and foremost a question of law, and is demonstrated by intention. Intention is evidenced by material facts, i.e. a person’s actions and behaviours. The domicile is therefore the place with which a person’s important actions or “states” of civic life are associated.
In other words, the domicile is the place a person considers to be his or her principal establishment, gives as a reference for the exercise of his or her civil rights, and indicates publicly as being his or her domicile.
The board of revisors has the power to inquire and obtain any information it considers relevant for examination of an application for entry on the list. To do this, it may ask the person to provide additional evidence, including evidence of bank accounts in a Québec banking institution, a Québec health insurance card, a Québec driver’s licence or registration certificate, or an income tax return made in Québec. The board of revisors may also question an elector who makes an application for entry on the list or for a change of domicile.
The more evidence that is provided, the clearer the person’s intention to establish domicile becomes. It is important to note that some specific actions also provide more certain evidence of the person’s intention to establish domicile in Québec than the simple fact of signing a lease. Examples include the fact of paying income tax in Québec or obtaining a Québec driver’s licence.
This interpretation of the notion of domicile has been confirmed by the courts. In addition, every person who makes an application for entry on the list must swear under oath that the information given is accurate.
Lastly, an elector who applies for entry on the list of electors in a polling subdivision, knowing that he or she is not entitled to be entered, may be prosecuted and is liable to a fine of between $5,000 and $20,000. Under the Election Act, such an offence is considered to be corrupt electoral practice.
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