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Understanding voting

Making an informed decision when voting

Summary

It’s not always easy to make a decision when it’s time to vote. Here are a few ideas to help you make an informed choice and be vigilant about the information you consult. Don’t let false information influence your choices, whether it’s published inadvertently or deliberately, to cause confusion.

In this section

Deciding who to vote for

Are you hesitating to vote because you lack information about the candidates or the political parties? Do you feel there’s too much you need to know? Here are a few ideas to help you get started.

  • Ask yourself about your values and talk to your family, friends, or colleagues about the issues that affect you. What is important to you?
  • Follow the news in print media, on TV, on the radio, or online. If you don’t know where to start, concentrate on a topic that interests you.
  • Browse social media and don’t hesitate to check the sources of the content you’re consulting. Subscribe to official accounts from reputable organizations and diversify your sources.
  • Consult the list of candidates and authorized political parties. People who wish to become candidates can officially do so during the first few weeks of the election period.
  • Visit the websites of political parties and independent candidates to better understand their proposals and projects.
  • Compare your ideas, interests, and values with those of the candidates, both independent and members of political parties. Ask yourself who aligns most closely with your priorities.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask the candidates questions. You can do so when you meet them, at public debates, by email, or on social networks.

There’s no right or wrong way to start. Your right to vote is yours to exercise!

Reliable information on the electoral process

False information about the electoral process is not always easy to spot. Sometimes it’s published or shared inadvertently; this constitutes misinformation. At other times it’s done deliberately, to cause confusion; this is disinformation. To vote in an informed manner, you need access to accurate, verifiable information.

Élections Québec is your best source for finding out when, where, and how to vote. We are specialists in all steps of the electoral process. If you have a question or if an information seems suspicious, visit our website to verify its accuracy or contact us.

Electoral legislation

Throughout the election period and even on election day, the media are free to cover political issues, candidates and political parties as they see fit. Electoral legislation gives the media a great deal of freedom, although it does set out some rules for journalists to follow. These rules do not require the media to give equal coverage to all political parties or candidates, nor regulate how the media cover political parties or candidates.

Electoral legislation does not regulate the content (images and text) of signage and political advertising. It is not intended to censor political debate. Élections Québec does not verify the accuracy of the candidates’ claims.

However, electoral legislation prohibits the dissemination of certain false information relating to how elections are conducted. The following actions may result in offences:

  • Misinterpreting the law intentionally
  • Counterfeiting or misappropriating a document emanating from Élections Québec for partisan purposes
  • Inhibiting the freedom to vote
  • Attempting to prevent any procedure relating to the vote
  • Spreading false news about the withdrawal of a candidate

Fines can reach up to $20,000 for a person committing a first offence and up to $30,000 for a subsequent offence.

Check the facts

Ask yourself the following questions before believing a post or sharing it with your acquaintances.

  • Does the news come from a media outlet or website you know? Does it have a good reputation? Did other media report the news?
  • If you found it on social media, is it from an official account?
  • Can you identify the source of the information? Does this source have recognized expertise on the topic? Is it a person or organization with a reputation for credibility?
  • Is it possible to confirm the facts stated in the text? Does the article contain references? Does it present a variety of viewpoints?
  • If it is an excerpt or a screenshot, can you find the full article or story?
  • Is the title of the text unnecessarily catchy? Does it reflect the content of the news you read?
  • Is the original publication date indicated? Is the information up to date?

If you answered “no” to one of these questions, beware: it could be fake news.

  • Confirm if other official or trusted sources have already refuted the information.
  • Ask yourself if the article is intended to inform, persuade, or entertain you. Are the arguments it presents verifiable facts or opinions?
  • Does the tone of the article seem overly emotional or provocative? Misleading articles often seek to provoke a strong reaction from their readers.
  • Talk to your family, friends, or colleagues. Have they read or heard different information?

Don’t let false information influence your choices. To form your own opinion, use verified and verifiable information. For all matters relating to the electoral process, Élections Québec is the best source. We need to ensure that electors have access to accurate information about the electoral process, so that they can vote with confidence.

What to do when information seems misleading

It’s a good idea to remain critical of the news you read or hear. This is especially true online, where it’s sometimes difficult to determine who’s behind a post. Specialists fighting disinformation and the spread of false information recommend a few good practices that are easy to adopt. If a piece of information or a statement seems suspicious, you can follow the tips below.

Ask yourself who is trying to influence you

Individuals and groups who try to influence your choice should do so transparently. In general, be vigilant when you can’t identify the source of an advertisement.

During an election, various rules governing political financing and measures for the control of election expenses provide a framework for political debate. For example, political parties and individuals seeking election must have authorization to raise funds or make partisan expenses. The official agent’s name and title must also appear in their advertisements. It’s a question of transparency.

During the election period, citizens and companies may not spend money to help or hinder the election of a candidate. They must follow the rules governing interventions in the political debate.

Confirm the authenticity of the information

False information is not always easy to spot. Ask yourself a few questions before believing or sharing a post. Beware of overly catchy or emotional titles, unsourced graphic montages, and articles with unverifiable information.

Misinformation or disinformation?

Misinformation is false or inaccurate information shared through ignorance, without malicious intent. Disinformation, on the other hand, is deliberately intended to cause confusion or mislead. It is not always easy, or even possible, to determine the source’s intention. This makes it all the more important to remain critical of the news you read or hear.

Don’t take part in spreading false information

Your friends and family can be influenced by what you post and by what they think you approve of. Avoid sharing a post that seems false on social media, even if your intention is to correct the information or warn your friends and family.

Don’t share posts or videos without first reading or watching them in their entirety. Some misleading titles that do not match the content seek first and foremost to provoke a strong emotional reaction. Their authors rely on an impulsive reaction to spread false information to as many people as possible.

The easiest way to stop the spread of false information is… to do nothing. It’s best not to share a misleading post, even by correcting it, in order to avoid giving it even more visibility. It’s just as pointless to interact with the person who posted it.

If you know the information is false and want to take action, you should create a new post or take a screenshot. Make sure you use an official, reliable source. Keep in mind that some posts are intended to provoke controversy or maintain a confrontational conversation. Just provide accurate, factual information.

Report the post

If you notice that false information is being spread about election dates, polling locations, or the electoral process, please contact us. We can have the information corrected. Certain situations could even constitute electoral offences.

Some posts may violate the general terms of use or community rules of various social media platforms. In this case, they can be reported directly to the platform.

Electoral legislation does not regulate the content (images and text) of online political messages, but they do set out certain rules that must be followed. If you think an advertisement does not include the statements required under the Act, please let us know.

Other resources

The Charter of the French language and its regulations govern the consultation of English-language content.

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