Abridged version of the Citizen round table’s November 13, 2020, meeting minutes

On November 13, 2020, Élections Québec invited the members of the Citizen round table to discuss three topics online: the communication campaign for the 2021 municipal general elections; the directives for election officers during provincial elections; and the secure service for application for entry on the permanent list of electors. The complete meeting minutes are available (in French).

Word from the Chief Electoral Officer

The Chief Electoral Officer, Mr. Pierre Reid, looked back on the October 30 online meeting. He emphasized the richness and quality of the exchanges, despite the distance. He recalled the main ideas and concerns of members at that meeting and the new developments that have occurred since then.

He then discussed some of Élections Québec’s cases and talked about the institution’s initial findings on pre-election expenses in the context of fixed-date elections.

Communication campaign for the 2021 municipal general elections

Before initiating the discussion on the 2021 municipal general elections communication campaign, members of the round table attended a presentation on the 2013 and 2017 municipal general elections communication campaigns. Afterwards, they learned about the objectives of the next campaign:

  • Inform electors about certain steps of the municipal electoral process (information objective);
  • Initiate electors to municipal democracy by informing them about the role of elected municipal officials and the impact of their decisions on everyday life (information and awareness objectives).

Topics and issues of the communication campaign

The topics and issues of the communication campaign have generated a lot of interest among the members of the Citizen round table.

Many said the campaign should inform electors about the voting process and demonstrate the impact of municipal issues on electors’ daily lives to promote electors’ turnout. These two subjects are in line with the objectives of Élections Québec.

Members stated that issues may vary by region or socio-demographic group. For example, a tenant may be less concerned than a homeowner about municipal elections; and an elderly person may be afraid to go vote because of the pandemic.

Some members pointed out that information about the candidates can have a decisive impact on whether or not people choose to vote. This is why members proposed, among other things, to encourage electors to find out about the election commitments of candidates.

Type of message

Several members of the round table believe that the messages conveyed by the Élections Québec communication campaign for the 2021 municipal general elections should be positive.

In addition, they proposed several interesting avenues of reflection regarding the messages to be conveyed:

  • Focus on the idea of citizen power rather than citizen duty;
  • Use forward-looking messages to reach young people;
  • Highlight the positive side of candidates’ political commitment.

Means of communication

Members also stated that the means of communication used by Élections Québec should be varied. Many of them believe that the most effective means differ depending on the age group and economic or family situation of electors.

Some members even gave examples of ways to reach out to the electorate, such as print media, signs on buses, and digital media.

Members also noted that repeating a message is often effective in getting people to remember it.

Directives for election officers during provincial elections

Members of the Citizen round table also discussed the revision of the directives for election officers during provincial elections. They were given a contextual setting and a presentation of the main changes made. To evaluate the effectiveness of the work done by Élections Québec, members consulted the new directives document and looked for certain information.

In general, feedback from members was positive. They noted the clarity, precision, simplicity and visual qualities of the document.

Members made a few suggestions for improving directives or staff training. Among other things, they proposed:

  • To add quick references to the table of contents and create a glossary of words used in the document or a list of keywords;
  • To include a timeline illustrating activities on election day;
  • To test the directives with a control group representative of the election officers.

Secure service of application for entry on the register of electors of the permanent list of electors

The members then addressed the secure service of application for entry on the register of electors of the permanent list of electors. This service would:

  • Ensure that electors provide all required information;
  • Ensure secure transmission of copies of required identification documents;
  • Speed up the processing of applications and, therefore, entries on the list.

The members welcomed this electronic project of Élections Québec. Many said they would use this online service for several reasons, including its quickness and simplicity.

One member stressed the importance of security for such a service.

Some members specified that it would be important to keep other options open for electors who do not want to make their application for entry online.