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Understanding voting

Rejected ballots

Summary

Find out why a ballot may be rejected during the counting of votes and how Québec deals with blank votes and spoiled ballots.

In this section

Reasons for rejection

A ballot may be rejected because:

  • More than one circle was marked, i.e., more than one candidate was chosen
  • It was not marked
  • It was marked elsewhere than in one of the circles, for example, by circling the name of the candidate
  • It was marked in favour of a person who is not a candidate, which can occur when a person votes on special ballots that require the name of the candidate to be written down, for example, when a person votes by mail while temporarily absent from Quebec
  • It bears trivial or inflammatory writing such as doodles, insults, etc.
  • It bears a mark that identifies the person who voted, e.g., the person voting signs or initials the ballot
  • It was marked using a means other than the lead pencil provided with the ballot paper, for example, with a pen or a marker
  • It was not supplied by the deputy returning officer
  • It does not include the initials of the deputy returning officer on the back of the ballot

No ballot paper may be rejected for the sole reason that the mark extends beyond the circle or that the circle is not completely filled in. However, the mark must not touch another circle.

Any mark that clearly indicates the elector’s intent should be accepted—for example, an X, a cross, a circle, a dot, a check mark, a fully darkened circle or a partially darkened circle. The important thing is for the mark to be clear and simple; it should leave no doubt as to the intended vote.

Consequences of a rejected ballot

Under Quebec’s electoral system, rejected ballots are counted in voter turnout. However, only valid ballots are included in the determination of how the total amount of annual financial assistance to political parties is distributed.

Blank vote and spoiled ballots in Québec

The current Québec ballot paper is prescribed by the Election Act. It does not provide the possibility to vote for none of the candidates or parties, therefore cancelling one’s vote, which is sometimes referred to as a blank vote in other electoral systems.

For example, if an elector does not mark any circles or marks all circles in order to cancel their vote, their ballot will be rejected, but will still be counted in voter turnout.

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