Press release No. 4 – General election of September 4, 2012 - Compared to the general election of December 2008, polling in 2012 will take place within a renewed framework

August 1st, 2012

Quebec City, August 1, 2012– A number of elements of the electoral framework for the 2012 general election will distinguish this event from the 2008 vote. A new electoral map, “novelties” with respect to how to exercise one’s right to vote, and changes to the Election Act concerning the financing of political parties, violations of the Act, and their legal consequences are now part of the electoral landscape.

A new electoral map

Adopted in October 2011 by the Commission de la représentation électorale, Québec’s new electoral map provides for changes to the boundaries of 86 electoral divisions. The creation of three new electoral divisions is also worth noting: Sanguinet, in Montérégie; Sainte-Rose, on Jésus island, in Laval, and Repentigny, in the Lanaudière region. Moreover, in Gaspésie, Bas-Saint-Laurent and Chaudière-Appalaches regions, three electoral divisions have been withdrawn. The new electoral division boundaries, as well as maps of the newly created electoral divisions may be examined on the website of the Chief Electoral Officer and the CRE at http://www2.electionsquebec.qc.ca/lacartechange/fr/.

Québec’s electors may also check on their electoral division by consulting the Chief Electoral Officer’s website. The notice to the electors that they will receive in the very near future, along with the reminder card to be distributed a few days before polling day, will confirm the name of their electoral division as well. They may also verify the information by contacting the Élections Québec Information Centre at 1-888-ELECTION (1-888-353-2846).

Voting outside an electoral division and the photo ballot paper

With respect to exercising their right to vote, electors will be able to benefit from a new measure, i.e. voting outside their electoral division. This new way of voting will be accessible to electors who are temporarily absent from their electoral division.  For the first time, they will be able to vote for a candidate from their own electoral division, in the electoral division where they are temporarily residing anywhere in Québec. It should, however, be noted that this new way to exercise their right to vote does not enable electors from an urban region, in particular, to vote in a neighbouring electoral division  and to return home at the end of the day. This new possibility has replaced the previous way formerly available to workers, students, persons receiving health care in facilities or centres, and those having left their domicile for reasons of safety to register on the list of electors for their temporary place of residence, in accordance with former section 3 of the Election Act.

Voting outside an electoral division will be carried out at an office of the returning officer, on the days set aside for this purpose, i.e. August 24, 25, 28, 29 and 30. The new procedure will also be accessible to those temporarily lodged in long-term care centres and residential facilities. In a statement, electors availing themselves of the new measure will, first of all, confirm that they have not yet voted and will be unable to vote at the location of their permanent domicile. They will then be given a list of the candidates from their home electoral division and a blank ballot on which to indicate the first and last names of the person for whom they wish to vote, as well as the name of the candidate’s political party, if they would like to specify it. The ballot paper will be inserted in an envelope that is then to be sealed and placed in a ballot box set aside for this purpose. 

Within a time frame prescribed in the Election Act, all ballot boxes used for voting outside an electoral division will be sent to the office of the Chief Electoral Officer in Quebec City. At the end of polling day, on September 4, the votes will be counted and compiled and the results transmitted to the various electoral divisions.

Electors voting in their electoral division will use a photo ballot paper, another first for this election. The goal is to make it simpler for certain electors to participate in the electoral process, in particular senior citizens, the disabled and the functionally illiterate.

The “new” ballot paper will still include the candidate’s name, his or her political party, and a black circle to be darkened by the elector.  A black and white photograph of the candidate will, however, be added beside his or her name on the ballot paper stub. With this photo, it will be simpler for electors to identify the candidate for whom they wish to vote, especially since they will have been able to look at a poster featuring the name and photograph upon entering the polling station.

Moreover, the circle to be darkened, which is usually 3 mm in circumference, will be expanded to 9 mm. In the same vein, the lettering on the ballot paper will be larger, with a typographical point of 18 instead of 16. These improvements are especially designed for those who have trouble deciphering what is written on the ballot paper so that they can better select the candidate of their choice. The result will be a much larger ballot paper (7.5 inches wide).

Changes to the Election Act

Important changes to the Election Act have been brought to bear since the general election of 2008. For instance, political contributions are now made differently, as they are transmitted directly to the Chief Electoral Officer, who verifies their compliance and then deposits them in the bank accounts of the political parties. In addition, the statement accompanying the contribution has been made more specific so that contributors are well aware that the contribution must come from their own property, without compensation or consideration, and that it may not be reimbursed in any way. Above and beyond ways to contribute as such, new penalties have been established to prevent the practice of contributing under the name of another, while much stiffer fines and penalties are in place to punish those making illegal contributions. For more information concerning these changes, please consult the Chief Electoral Officer’s website at http://www.electionsquebec.qc.ca/francais/nouvelles-regles-financement-politique.

As this general election period gets underway, it is worth recalling that a number of fines for violations of voting rules have been increased, including for anyone registering the name of a person who is not entitled on the list of electors, voting more than once in an election, attempting to influence an elector by promising a gift or other benefit, and denying an elector four consecutive hours to vote on polling day. For more information concerning these new fines, please consult the Chief Electoral Officer’s website at http://www.electionsquebec.qc.ca/francais/actualite-detail.php?id=4079.

  

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Categories : Provincial, General election 2012