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Citizen round table: Online voting, polling subdivisions and voter turnout

18 September 2018

Categories: Institutional, Voting

On June 8, members of the Citizen round table attended a third meeting during which they learned more about the information that will be provided to electors for the upcoming elections, discussed the challenges involved in online voting and began a reflection on how to encourage voter turnout.

Should we implement online voting?

This is a hot topic . . . One of the workshops focused on the issues relating to the adoption of online voting—which is being considered throughout the world—due to the ubiquity of technology in our lives. Members had the opportunity to express their opinions and discuss the risks and challenges of this option. Despite their reservations, the vast majority of members felt that online voting would be implemented sooner or later. Consequently, they deemed it wise to immediately initiate studies, carry out public opinion surveys throughout Québec and launch pilot projects. Should online voting be made available, members recommend that its implementation be progressive, transparent and that it be accompanied by a large-scale information campaign. Lastly, they stress the importance of maintaining the option to vote on paper.

Proposed changes regarding the size of polling subdivisions

The Election Act currently requires that voting results be published by polling subdivision (a geographic unit representing a maximum of 425 electors), which allows for the small-scale verification of results. However, members of the Citizen round table had previously questioned the usefulness of this practice.

Members made numerous comments, including one on the size of polling subdivisions. In their opinion, the size of polling subdivisions is too small and can contribute to the predictability of the electors’ vote. Another comment about the risks related to the use of this data by candidates and political parties was formulated. In fact, half the members are in support of increasing the size of the polling subdivisions so that they correspond, for example, to all the electors in a voting location. The other half of members, for their part, prefer that results be published for the entire electoral division.

Why do some people not turn out to vote?

The last workshop allowed members of the Citizen round table to initiate a reflection on the various ways to encourage voter turnout. During a brainstorming session, members put forward solutions to be discussed at the next meeting.

Some of their suggestions relate to the electoral framework, for example those aimed at lowering the voting age or recognizing the blank vote. Other suggestions relate more broadly to civic education, to citizens’ contribution to the legislative process, or to how political parties are run. Many of these ideas will be at the heart of the members’ reflection during the Table’s next meeting scheduled on November 16, 2018.

For more information

To learn more about this meeting and the proposed solutions, you can view the minutes published on the Citizen round table’s web page.

Questions? Contact us at 1-888-ÉLECTION (1-888-353-2846) or email us at [email protected].

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