2021 Municipal general elections: Voting by mail, how does it work?

September 30, 2021

Published in the news section on April 30, we told you about the main measures that will ensure the smooth operation of the 2021 municipal general elections despite the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of these measures is voting by mail. Several groups of electors will be able to vote by mail for the next general municipal elections on November 7, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. What are these groups? How does voting by mail work? How are the integrity and secrecy of the vote preserved? Here are some answers!

Who can vote by mail?

  • Electors living in a CHSLD, a seniors’ residence recognized by the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS), a hospital or a rehabilitation centre;
  • Electors who are unable to travel for health reasons, as well as their caregiver living at the same address;
  • Electors who must isolate themselves as recommended or ordered by public health authorities.

Each municipality may also offer voting by mail to electors who are 70 years of age or older on November 7, 2021, whether or not they are domiciled in the municipality. The list of affected municipalities is available on our website.

In addition, as in previous elections, each municipality may also offer voting by mail to electors whose domicile is in another municipality, for example, owners of a cottage.

How will voting by mail work for the next municipal general election?

The voting by mail process was adapted by the Chief Electoral Officer, following the adoption of the Regulation amending certain municipal provisions to facilitate the conduct of the municipal general election of November 7, 2021, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are the three main steps to vote by mail for these elections.

Step 1: Elector applies to register

The eligible elector must apply to register by telephone or in writing to the returning officer.

Note that electors cannot apply verbally if they are non-residents of a municipality that has adopted a regulation allowing voting by mail as usual.

Step 2: Elector receives voting materials

Once registered, the elector receives their voting materials by mail. This material includes:

  • One ballot for each position for which the elector can vote; this ballot will bear the initials of the returning officer;
  • One envelope in which to insert the ballot(s) (envelope 1);
  • One return envelope with the name and address of the returning officer (envelope 2);
  • The form Declaration of the elector or the person qualified to vote and the person providing assistance;
  • Instructions for voting;
  • A document on which a person domiciled in a CHSLD, a seniors’ residence recognized by the Ministère, a hospital or a rehabilitation centre, can write their date of birth and affix their signature, thus replacing their identification document.

With the voting materials in hand, the elector must first complete their ballot(s), which contains the names of the candidates. They must then insert their completed ballot(s) in envelope 1, which they must seal. No mark or inscription must be added to this envelope in order to preserve the secrecy of the vote, otherwise the envelope will be cancelled.

Finally, the elector must insert in envelope 2:

  • Envelope 1 containing the ballot(s);
  • The form Declaration of the elector or the person qualified to vote and the person providing assistance signed by the elector and by the person who assists them, if applicable;
  • A photocopy of an identification document, or the duly completed identification document if the elector resides in a CHSLD, a seniors’ residence recognized by the Ministère, a hospital or a rehabilitation centre.

All that remains is to seal envelope 2 and mail it or drop it off at the office of the returning officer. The envelope must be received by Friday, November 5 at 4:30 p.m., otherwise the vote will be cancelled.

Important! The eligible elector must take into account mailing times—which can vary from region to region—when requesting voting documents or sending his or her completed ballot to the office of the returning officer.

Step 3: The office of the returning officer receives envelopes

When receiving the envelope, the electoral staff first verifies the information on the form to verify the identity of the elector. If the contents of the envelope are correct, the electoral staff places the envelope containing the ballots in a ballot box for counting on polling day. The electoral list is also marked to prevent the elector from voting twice.

For more information

Municipalities will provide all the information necessary to register to vote by mail during an election period. This measure only applies to the municipal general elections of November 7, 2021 due to the context of the pandemic and stems from the Act to facilitate the conduct of the 7 November 2021 municipal general election in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the regulation adopted by the Chief Electoral Officer to specify its terms.

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Categories : DGE, Elections - general and RCMs 2021

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