The opposition at Montreal’s city hall is urging the administration of Mayor Valérie Plante to ask Quebec to authorize postal voting in the next general municipal elections, since it is difficult to know if the COVID-19 pandemic will be absorbed by then.
Alain DeSousa, elected from Ensemble Montréal, will present a motion to this effect next week to the municipal council. “Without a postal vote, we could expect a significant reduction in the turnout in the next municipal elections,” reads the motion.
Even before the pandemic, 42% of Montreal voters participated in the 2017 municipal elections. By comparison, the vote rate in the 2018 provincial elections was 66%.
“We cannot sacrifice democracy, nor should we sacrifice the health of citizens if they decide to exercise their right to vote,” said DeSousa, believing that vulnerable people might be afraid to vote. in person.
“Voting by mail is the future. It is not only a public health measure, but it encourages participation, ”also suggests Marvin Rotrand, independent advisor who supports the motion.
Voting by mail is currently permitted for a non-resident owner of a municipality. With the pandemic, this option has been extended, for municipal by-elections, to any voter who would be eligible for the mobile polling station and people in isolation.
The Minister of Municipal Affairs, Andrée Laforest, does not completely close the door to postal voting for the general municipal elections, saying that the option will be studied.
“We will continue the work relating to the various adaptations that may be required to the electoral procedures in anticipation of the holding of the general municipal elections of November 7, 2021,” said Minister Laforest in a recent response to a petition to allow everyone to vote by the post. This request “will be taken into consideration as part of this work,” she wrote.
His cabinet did not say when a decision will be made, or whether the relaxations for the by-elections will be valid for the general election.
“I am encouraged by the minister’s openness, but it requires (of) action as quickly as possible”, comments Mr. DeSousa, explaining that in addition to legislative changes, time must be given for logistical planning. . “Time is our ally, but if we waste it, time will become our enemy.”
Mr. Rotrand, for his part, finds the minister’s response far too timid. “The answer doesn’t say they’re going to do it, but leaves a vague possibility. We have no time to waste, otherwise we will miss the deadline. ”
A commission from Montreal’s city hall suggested last August to spread the ballot over several days to promote distance, rather than betting on voting by mail. Ensemble Montréal, through its motion, also wants a vote over several days.