Report on the Citizen Round Table meeting held on October 11, 2019: abridged version

The meeting of the Citizen Round Table held on October 11, 2019 was the final gathering of the members' initial mandate. To mark the occasion, they drew up a review of the mandate. They also discussed various challenges relating to election officers recruitment and put forward a number of potential solutions. An unabridged report of the meeting is also available (in French only).

Chief Electoral Officer’s remarks

The Chief Electoral Officer, Pierre Reid, said that he was glad that the Round Table members had agreed to renew their mandate, at his request. The Round Table will thus be continuing with its current 12 members for the next two years.

Mr. Reid then went over the main issues of concern to his team.

Follow-up on the Round Table's recommendations

During the first five Round Table meetings, the members submitted over 70 recommendations to Élections Québec on the various topics they addressed. The Round Table coordinator presented the follow-up mechanisms put in place so Élections Québec's teams could take these recommendations into consideration. The coordinator then asked the members to determine which recommendations were most important to them. The following were mentioned most frequently by the members:

  • Introduce a civic education course from the third year of secondary school.
  • Regulate how the political parties protect personal information.
  • Give voters more flexibility by using a computerized version of the list of electors in polling places. That way, voters could cast ballots in the polling place of their choice.

In the next few weeks, Élections Québec will be publishing a more detailed report on the Round Table's initial mandate.

Feedback on online voting recommendations

Élections Québec is currently studying the issue of online voting. The Round Table members re-evaluated the recommendations they had formulated in this regard at a meeting in June 2018 and confirmed that they are still in agreement with them (please see below).

General recommendation

  • The Round Table members do not recommend the immediate introduction of online voting in Québec.
  • Instead, they suggest studying the opportunities and risks associated with this voting method.

If online voting were to be implemented, the members suggested that Élections Québec take the following steps:

  • Retain paper ballots for voters who prefer that option.
  • Proceed gradually and carefully by:
    • Carrying out pilot projects involving a limited number of voters.
    • Conducting voter satisfaction surveys after the fact.
  • Conduct a large-scale information campaign aimed at informing voters of the risks associated with online voting and promoting the mechanisms in place to mitigate them.
  • Be transparent throughout the process, in particular by publishing the results of completed pilot projects.

Election officials recruitment

The Round Table members considered various challenges relating to election officials recruitment. This is a daunting issue: during general elections, Élections Québec has to hire tens of thousands of people to serve as election officials in a very specific context. The Round Table members suggested various solutions aimed at facilitating the recruitment process:

Expand the recruitment pool

  • Create a tax credit for companies that encourage their staff to work as election officials.
  • Allow young people (16/17-year-olds) to work as election officials.
  • Eliminate the position of officer in charge of the list of electors.
  • Encourage teachers to work on election day given that the Election Act stipulates that it is a day off for students across Québec.
  • Draw inspiration from how juries are selected, i.e. by random draws.

Develop new recruitment strategies

  • Recruit election officials several weeks (if not several months) prior to the election period.
  • Recruit within various associations.
  • Encourage political parties to recommend more election officials.

Make election officials' task more attractive

  • Focus on election officials' civic mission during the recruitment process and emphasize their invaluable contributions, which are essential to the smooth conduct of an election.
  • Improve their working conditions, e.g. by offering greater scheduling flexibility.
  • Increase their salary.
  • Eliminate financial penalties for individuals receiving social benefits.
  • Provide election officials with a letter of recommendation, which could prove useful in future job searches.

In addition, the Round Table members came up with various suggestions aimed at improving the "Recruitment" section of Élections Québec's website. They also recommended adding online tools to facilitate the training process for election officials.