On October 27, the Minister of the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation, Ms. Andrée Laforest, announced the resumption of municipal by-elections. By-elections will therefore be held in several municipalities, including those in red zones, on December 13, 2020. Certain municipalities may hold elections on another date.
In order for these elections to be held, security measures have been increased and added to the Health protocol to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 during any municipal election. These measures will be in effect during all elections, regardless of the COVID-19 alert level in a given municipality.
As a result, if the advance poll for a municipal by-election was not held before October 2, 2020, the advance poll may be held over five days. For example, the advance poll for an election taking place on December 13, 2020, may be held from December 4 to 8, 2020 (inclusive). In addition, the election may be held over two days (e.g., on December 12 and 13, 2020).
If the advance poll was held before October 2, 2020, the election may take place over four days (e.g., on December 10, 11, 12 and 13). Please remember that some municipalities were able to hold an advance poll, but that the election was subsequently postponed when the region was declared a red zone.
In order to lower the number of election officers and their hours of work, polling stations will have reduced opening hours. Polling stations will open at 10 or 11 a.m. and close at 7 or 8 p.m. Returning officers are responsible for setting opening hours.
Returning officers may also ask for electors with an even address to vote on a certain date, and for those with an odd address vote on a different date. If a returning officer chooses to do so, he or she should include the relevant information in both the notice of poll and the reminder card. However, all electors are welcome to vote at any time the polling station is open.
These measures will serve to limit the number of persons present at polling places. Returning officers must nevertheless ensure that all public health guidelines are followed.
Roles and responsibilities
The Minister of the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation is responsible for the overall application of the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities, which governs municipal elections. The decision to resume these elections therefore rests with the minister and her team.
Each municipality’s returning officer is responsible organizing and holding municipal elections. The role of Élections Québec is to train and support returning officers in carrying out this mandate.
Élections Québec also monitors political financing and election expenses.