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Questions and answers on holding elections in the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Québec

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On August 7, 2020, Ministerial Order 2020-003 (dated March 14, 2020) was repealed. As a result, the municipal by-elections that were cancelled or could not be held due to COVID-19 may now take place.

Élections Québec had previously sent official agents and municipal treasurers the relevant measures with regard to political financing following the cancellation and resumption of these by-elections. The Measures to be applied following the annulment of by-elections section contains more details on this subject.

On August 21, 2020, a Health protocol to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 during any municipal election was issued to safely manage elections during the pandemic.

On August 28, 2020, the Minister of the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux issued Ministerial Order 2020-060, which amends certain provisions of the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities (CQLR, c. E-2.2) during the state of health emergency.

To learn about the adaptation measures to be applied in relation to COVID-19, with regard to political financing, please refer to the section titled Health guidelines governing political financing.

For questions regarding polling procedures, please see the page titled Questions and answers concerning the municipalities during the COVID-19 pandemic prepared by the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation.

Implementation of the health protocol

Issued by the government on September 30, 2020, Order in Council 1020-2020 provides for a series of adjustments to health guidelines based on the COVID-19 alert level in force in the territory of each municipality: green zone (Vigilance), yellow zone (Early Warning), orange zone (Alert) or red zone (Maximum Alert).

You can visit the Québec.ca website to check your municipality’s alert level, as well as the health guidelines in effect for each alert level.

The Health protocol to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 during any municipal election will be adjusted in accordance with these measures.

Until such an update occurs, it is important to implement the guidelines provided by the government.

Measures to be applied following cancellation of by-elections

Authorization

1. I obtained an authorization as an elector who undertakes to run as an independent candidate in the cancelled by-election. Do I need to obtain this authorization again if I want to run when the by-election resumes?

No, the authorization obtained for the cancelled by-election remains valid for the purposes of its resumption.

2. I obtained authorization as an elector who undertakes to run as an independent candidate or as an independent candidate in the cancelled by-election, but I will not be running when it resumes. What should I do with the money collected in preparation for the election?

If you no longer wish to run as an independent candidate when the election process resumes, the Chief Electoral Officer will have to withdraw the authorization you were granted. Accordingly, any money or goods you hold as an independent candidate must be remitted to Élections Québec within 10 days after the withdrawal of your authorization. Once the goods are sold, the surplus will be given to the municipal treasurer.

3. I want to run as an independent candidate in the by-election. How do I obtain authorization to engage in political financing?

During the nomination period, you can request authorization using the nomination paper form, which is available from your municipal returning officer. Supporting signatures required for the nomination paper must be signed in the presence of the person collecting the signatures. Authorization is then granted by the returning officer or the latter’s assistant.

For more information on obtaining the form or on submitting it to the returning officer, please contact the latter.

Contributions

4. During the cancelled by-election, I collected contributions and other income, but I did not spend all the funds. Since I will be running again when the by-election resumes, can I keep this money?

Yes, the adopted measures allow you to keep this money to use for your election campaign when the by-election resumes.

However, if you decide to withdraw and do not run, or if you request that your authorization be withdrawn, this money should be returned to the municipality.

5. An elector made a $200 contribution to my campaign during the cancelled by-election. Can this same person make another contribution once the by-election resumes?

No. The amount collected during the cancelled by-election must be taken into account once the poll resumes. As a result, the elector who previously contributed $200 has already reached the maximum contribution limit.

Expenditures and accountability

6. I spent $2,000 during the cancelled by-election. Do I have to deduct this amount from my spending limit once the by-election resumes?

No, expenses incurred during the cancelled by-election are not counted toward the election expenses limit in force once the by-election resumes. For example, if the initial limit was $5,100, the candidate is allowed to spend that full amount after the by-election resumes.

7. I already filed the return of my expenses due on July 31, 2020. Do I need to file a new return after the by-election resumes?

Yes, the candidate will be required to file a new return detailing expenses related to the cancelled by-election. The usual requirements for filing a return of election expenses apply, including a deadline of 90 days after the poll for submitting the return with supporting documents.

8. Can I re-use advertising material produced for the cancelled by-election once the by-election resumes?

Yes, you can. However, directive D-M-20 on the re-use of material will not apply. Consequently, no additional expenses will have to be reported on the second return.

Public financing

9. Will contributions collected during the cancelled by-election be eligible for payment of matching sums?

Yes, they are eligible for payment of matching sums.

10. Since contributions collected both during the cancelled by-election and after the by-election resumes are eligible for payment of matching sums, will the maximum amount to which I am entitled be doubled?

No. The amount of public funding provided for under the legislation remains unchanged. The maximum amount you may receive in matching sums will therefore vary between $500 to $10,000, depending on the seat for which you are running and the number of inhabitants in your municipality or borough.

11. After filing my return of election expenses for the cancelled by-election, the treasurer provided me with an advance. I am now being asked to repay a certain amount. Why is that?

After the resumption of the by-election, the calculation of the amount of the reimbursement to which the candidate is entitled will be reviewed in light of his or her situation. Consequently, to qualify for reimbursement, the candidate will have to meet the conditions set out in the legislation, that is to say he or she must be elected or obtain at least 15% of the votes cast. As a result, if an overpayment was made after the first return of expenses was filed, the treasurer can request a repayment.

12. Will the advance paid after I filed my return for the cancelled by-election be deducted from the amount of the reimbursement I will be entitled to receive after I file my second return?

Yes, the amount received upon filing the first return represents an advance on the reimbursement that will be calculated after the results of the poll are known and you file your second return of election expenses. Subject to the other conditions set out in the legislation, the maximum reimbursement to which a candidate or party may receive is therefore 70% of the election expenses reported on the second return.

This also means that a candidate who does not qualify for reimbursement of election expenses based on the results of the poll will have to repay the full amount of any advance he or she received.

The reimbursement of election expenses after the poll will be conducted in the usual manner.

Municipalities with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants

Contributions

13. I collected a $200 contribution from a donor for the cancelled by-election. Can this person make another contribution once the by-election resumes?

The maximum contribution that a natural person can make to a candidate remains the same, that is to say $200. As a result, if the donor already contributed the maximum amount, he or she cannot make a new contribution once the by-election resumes.

Accountability

14. I ran in the by-election both before it was cancelled and after it resumed. How many donors lists and returns of expenses do I need to file?

You only need to file one return, using the regular form (DGE-1038). A record must be kept of gifts of money collected and expenses incurred both during the cancelled by-election and after the by-election resumes. This return must be submitted to the municipal treasurer within 90 days after the poll.

15. I ran as a candidate in the cancelled by-election, but I did not run again after the by-election resumed. When do I have to file my donors list and return of expenses?

Your return must be filed within 90 days after the poll.

Health guidelines governing political financing

16. What health measures will be applicable to activities associated with political authorization and financing in the context of COVID-19?

Élections Québec and the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation have collaborated with the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux to develop a Health protocol to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 during any municipal election. This protocol, published August 21, 2020, consists of a set of measures affecting both election preparations, including polling, and the rules governing political financing.

Beside this question and answer section, a summary table provides more details on the application of these guidelines to political financing.

In addition, the Minister of the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux issued a Ministerial Order on August 28, 2020, under the Public Health Act, to establish rules specifically applicable to the current situation and to adapt the rules under the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities. These adaptations are set out in the protocol.

With respect to political financing, the Ministerial Order lowers to 50 the maximum number of supporting signatures that a municipal political party or an elector who undertakes to run as an independent candidate must collect in order to obtain authorization. For more details on the application of these measures, we invite you to consult the summary table which has been made available.

Authorization

17. I want to apply to reserve a name for a municipal political party. How do I do that?

The form for reserving a name is available on our website. You must complete it and submit it by mail or e-mail. Transmission by e-mail is preferred.

18. I would like to obtain authorization for a municipal political party. How do I do that?

You must contact the team of the Register of authorized political entities of Québec (RAPEQ) by e-mail at repaq@electionsquebec.qc.ca or by telephone at 418 528-0422 or 1 888 ELECTION (1 888 353-2846). We will send you all the relevant documents by e-mail.

Both the application for authorization, signed by the leader and the official representative, and the slips bearing the supporting signatures of party members can be sent to us by e-mail. Please retain the documents submitted, as you may be asked for them if clarification is required.

19. I would like to obtain authorization to become an authorized elector in my municipality. How do I do that?

The application for authorization and the slip for collecting supporting signatures are available on the Élections Québec website. You can also obtain a copy by making an appointment with your municipal returning officer. Simply complete and sign the application form, attach the slips with the supporting signatures, and submit everything to the returning officer by e-mail.

Please retain the documents submitted, as you may be asked for them if clarification is required.

20. I wish to apply as an elector who undertakes to run as an independent candidate in a municipal election. How many supporting signatures do I need to collect in order to obtain authorization?

On August 28, 2020, the Minister of the ministre de la Santé et des Services sociaux issued Ministerial Order 2020-060, which reduces to 50 the maximum number of supporting signatures that an elector who undertakes to run as an independent candidate must collect to obtain his or her authorization during a state of health emergency.

Therefore, an elector who undertakes to run as an independent candidate for mayor must collect the following number of supporting signatures:

  • 5 in the case of a municipality or borough having a population of under 5,000;
  • 10 in the case of a municipality or borough having a population of 5,000 or more, but under 20,000;
  • 50 in the case of a municipality or borough having a population of 20,000 or more.

An elector who undertakes to run as an independent candidate for the position of councillor must collect the same number of supporting signatures as usual, i.e.:

  • 5 in the case of a municipality having a population of under 5,000;
  • 10 in the case of a municipality having a population of 5,000 or more, but under 20,000;
  • 25 in the case of a municipality having a population of 20,000 or more.

21. As leader, I would like to obtain authorization for my municipal political party. How many supporting signatures do I need to collect in order to obtain this authorization?

On August 28, 2020, the Minister of the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux issued Ministerial Order 2020-060, which lowers to 50 the maximum number of supporting signatures that a municipal political party must collect in order to obtain its authorization during a state of health emergency.

Therefore, here is the number of supporting signatures that a municipal political party needs to obtain authorization:

  • 25, in the case of a municipality with a population of 5,000 or more, but less than 50,000;
  • 50, in the case of a municipality with a population of 50,000 or more.

22. I am not able to e-mail my application for authorization of an elector who undertakes to run as an independent candidate. Can I submit it to the returning officer in person?

The returning officer is encouraged to provide remote support to answer questions from those wishing to apply for authorization.

Although transmission by e-mail is preferred to reduce the risk of contamination, you can make an appointment with the returning officer of your municipality to submit your request for authorization.

During this appointment, the returning officer must respect the following health instructions:

  • post the applicable health rules at the entrance to the appointment location;
  • encourage the installation of a physical barrier (solid transparent partition) and provide all necessary indication on the ground (direction of traffic, respect for the rule of physical distance of two metres);
  • remind the elector who undertakes to run as an independent candidate of the obligation to wear a face cover;
  • provide the elector who undertakes to run as an independent candidate with hand disinfectant;
  • avoid handshakes;
  • wear personal protective equipment appropriate to the hazard (a procedural mask and eye protection);
  • disinfect any equipment used for the purpose of the pre- and post-meeting (e.g., a chair, a chair belt, etc.);
  • avoid sharing an object with the elector who undertakes to run as an independent candidate (e.g., a pencil);
  • disinfect hands before and after handling documents;
  • frequently disinfect affected surfaces such as tables, counters, photocopiers and doorknobs.

Once the authorization is obtained, you will be able to make an appointment with the treasurer of your municipality to receive contribution receipts.

23. Can I go door-to-door as part of my election campaign to collect supporting signatures for my authorization?

A Health protocol to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 during any municipal election has been developed by the competent authorities.

In order to facilitate the collection of signatures in support of your authorization and to encourage remote interaction, a slip is provided to collect signatures individually (for the political party: DGE-1028.1 [please contact us to obtain it]; for an elector who undertakes to run as an independent candidate: DGE-1028.1). The slip can be sent electronically to the person who wishes to support you, who can print it, sign it, scan it and return it back to you by e-mail. All of the records collected in this way may be attached to the request for authorization sent by e-mail. Please retain the documents submitted, as you may be asked for them if clarification is required.

* Note that this option does not apply to supporting signatures for the nomination paper, which must be collected in person.

However, if the collection of supporting signatures for your authorization is done in person, a list of health instructions will be provided. The following items are included on this list:

  • an appointment has been made with the signatory in a specific location that limits gatherings (e.g., at the wheel of a car, in the open air, in a private residence or in a public place where applicable hygiene rules and the rule of physical distance are respected, such as the public library);
  • sufficient time has been allowed for each of the signatories, so that they are not gathered in the same place;
  • disinfectant has been provided to the signatory to disinfect hands before and after handling the form;
  • the signatory has been instructed to wear a face cover and to use his or her own pencil,
  • each of the signatories signed on a separate form provided for that purpose;
  • any equipment used for the meeting (e.g., a chair) has been disinfected before and after the meeting;
  • hand hygiene rules have been followed when handling any form completed by a signatory;
  • a two metres distance was always maintained between the signatory and the candidate and direct contact (e.g., handshakes) was avoided during greetings;
  • the name and contact information of the person met, including any person who refused to provide a signature, were recorded in a register that can be handed over in the event of an investigation from public health authorities. A document to be used for this purpose is available on the Élections Québec website.

Any person designated to solicit or collect supporting signatures must be informed of these health instructions. The list of health instructions in the event of an in-person solicitation must also be given to him or her.

Contributions

24. Can I go door-to-door as part of my election campaign to collect contributions?

A Health protocol to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 during any municipal election has been developed by the competent authorities. According to this protocol, remote solicitation is preferred: it should therefore be carried out by telephone or e-mail. A provisional receipt is available online so that the elector can sign the mandatory declaration. The receipt thus completed and signed by the elector may be forwarded to the official representative of the party or candidate, along with the contribution. The official representative will issue an official receipt to the contributor. The provisional receipt must be given to the treasurer at the same time as the official receipt.

However, if contributions are solicited in person, a list of health instructions is provided to you. The following items are included on this list:

  • an appointment has been made with the contributor in a specific location that limits gatherings (e.g., at the wheel of a car, in the open air, in a private residence or in a public place where applicable hygiene rules and the rule of physical distance are respected, such as the public library);
  • sufficient time has been allowed for each of the contributors, so that they are not gathered in the same place;
  • disinfectant has been provided to the contributor to disinfect hands before and after handling the form;
  • the contributor has been instructed to wear a face cover and to use his or her own pencil;
  • each of the contributors signed on a separate form provided for that purpose;
  • any equipment used for the meeting (e.g., a chair) has been disinfected before and after the meeting;
  • hand hygiene rules have been followed when handling any form completed by a contributor;
  • a two metres distance was always maintained between the contributor and the person soliciting or collecting the contribution and direct contact (e.g., handshakes) was avoided during greetings;
  • the name and contact information of the person met, including any person who refused to make a contribution, were recorded in a register that can be handed over in the event of an investigation from public health authorities. A document to be used for this purpose is available on the Élections Québec website.

Any person designated to solicit or collect contributions must be informed of these health instructions. The list of health instructions in the event of an in-person solicitation must also be given to him or her.

Remember that political contributions can only be made to the official representative or to the person designated by the official representative by means of a canvasser’s certificate.

25. Can I organize a political activity or rally to raise funds?

Élections Québec would like to remind all political stakeholders of the importance of respecting the measures established by the Government and public health authorities in the context of activities related to the election campaign, particularly with respect to indoor and outdoor gatherings. To this end, you can consult the Government of Québec website: Gatherings and Audiences in the Context of COVID-19.

Where the entrance fee is considered a political contribution, please refer to the health guidelines for solicitation set out in point 10 of the summary table.

26. Can I collect contributions in ways other than going door-to-door or organizing a political activity?

You may solicit contributions by e-mail or telephone. When making a contribution by e-mail or telephone, the elector can complete a provisional receipt, available online. The contributor must sign the provisional receipt and send it to you by e-mail or postal mail, along with his or her contribution. You will be responsible for providing the contributor with an official receipt, which you may also send by postal mail.

Contributions may also be collected by credit card by political parties and candidates with transactional sites. The terms of use for a transactional site are set out in directive D-M-21, including the requirement to obtain prior approval for the site from Élections Québec. Please note that bank transfers (e.g., Interac) are not accepted.

27. We are in the middle of an election campaign and I would like to get additional contribution receipts. How do I do that?

The treasurer is encouraged to provide remote support to answer questions about political financing.

During the election period, contribution receipts are issued by the treasurer. In order to avoid the waiting time caused by the mail, we invite you to make an appointment with the treasurer who will hand-deliver the documents to you in person.

During this meeting, the treasurer must respect the following health instructions:

  • post the applicable health rules at the entrance to the appointment location;
  • give preference to the installation of a physical barrier (solid transparent partition) and provide all necessary indications on the ground (direction of traffic, respect for the rule of physical distance of two metres);
  • remind the official representative of the obligation to wear a face cover;
  • provide the official representative with hand disinfectant;
  • avoid handshakes;
  • wear personal protective equipment appropriate to the hazard (a procedural mask and eye protection);
  • disinfect any equipment used for the purpose of the pre- and post-meeting (e.g., a chair, a chair belt, etc.);
  • avoid sharing an object with the official representative (e.g., a pencil);
  • disinfect hands before and after handling documents;
  • frequently disinfect affected surfaces such as the tables, counters and doorknobs.

28. I am the co-owner of a building or the co-occupant of a business establishment, and I want to make a political contribution. How do I do that?

First, you need to complete the form titled Power of attorney — Co-owner or co-occupant entitled to make a contribution. The form must be signed by a majority of the co-owners or co-occupants. Once completed, the signed form can be e-mailed directly to Élections Québec, at contribution-municipal@electionsquebec.qc.ca, or to your municipal treasurer, at the address provided by him or her.

If it is not possible to send the form by e-mail, you may send it by postal mail or deliver it in person to the municipal treasurer. In the latter case, be sure to follow the health guidelines in force at the municipal office. The treasurer must forward a copy to Élections Québec.

Your contribution can only be made after the power of attorney form has been sent to the municipality. If you send it by e-mail to Élections Québec, we will inform your municipality and you will receive a confirmation to that effect.

Expenses

29. Do I have to pay for every expense related to my election campaign by cheque?

In order to avoid, as much as possible, the handling and exchange of cheques by the various parties, Élections Québec authorizes the payment of expenses by bank transfer, provided that all supporting documents making it possible to trace the transfer are kept and submitted along with the return of election expenses.