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Citizen round table: General election review, protection of personal information, blank voting, and other means of encouraging voter turnout

30 January 2019

Categories: Institutional

The members of the Citizen round table met on Friday, November 16, 2018. This meeting provided them an opportunity to review their experience of the 2018 provincial general election, discuss privacy issues, and explore four ways to encourage voter turnout: mandatory voting, blank voting, voting incentives, and lowering the voting age.

Members’ assessment of the 2018 general election

Most members’ experience as voters was positive. Among the successes of Élections Québec, members noted:

  • The user-friendliness and attractive design of the event website;
  • The enthusiasm generated by the small polling stations, which allowed youth and children accompanying their parents to vote too; and
  • The expertise of returning officers.

However, according to them, three areas should be improved until the next general election:

  • Various elements related to the election officers (recruitment, training, work, etc.);
  • Computer system slowdowns; and
  • The lack of information on political parties’ and candidates’ platforms.

Regulations for political parties with respect to the protection of personal information

Most members were surprised to find out that the practices of political parties and candidates with respect to the use and protection of personal information were so poorly regulated. They expressed concern with the fact that the political parties probably use voters’ personal data from the lists of electors to build databases. The members believe that more oversight is needed to protect such data and increase the transparency of political parties in this regard.

With this in mind, the members recommend that:

  • The sex and date of birth of electors no longer appear on the list of electors sent to parties and candidates;
  • The parties be required to publish a privacy policy before they can be provided with the permanent list of electors;
  • Anyone using this data be required to sign a confidentiality agreement;
  • Voters have the possibility to consult the data that political parties hold on them and to request that it be changed or deleted; and
  • A period for data retention be established so that the recipients would be required to destroy the voters’ personal data by the end of this period

Ways to encourage voter turnout

The members also discussed and made recommendations on four ways to encourage voter turnout:

  • The members want to introduce blank voting as an alternative and that it be counted in the same manner as votes for candidates;
  • The members recommend that all voters be given a token of recognition, such as an “I voted!” sticker or other similar object;
  • There is near unanimity among the members for lowering the voting age. They believe that this would allow more people to express their opinions and help youth develop a habit of voting. The members recommend, unanimously this time, the implementation of a civic education course from the third year of secondary school; and
  • The members expressed their opposition to making voting mandatory

For more information

For more information on this meeting and the proposed solutions, please see the report (in French only) published on the website of the Citizen round table.

For questions, contact us at 1-888-ELECTION (1-888-353-2846) or email us at [email protected].

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