Listen: McGill University PhD student Sean Beatty secretly recorded an exchange with elections officials
MONTREAL – There have been numerous media reports of English-speaking university students trying to register to vote. Some students complained they were turned away even though they believed they had the necessary documentation.
While Quebec’s English-language media has generally focused on those cases, French-language counterparts have sometimes presented the issue differently – as an effort by students from outside Quebec to influence the outcome of the election.
Denis Dion, a spokesperson for Quebec’s Chief Electoral Office, said there had been an increase in attempts by out-of-province students to register in some ridings, but that Vandal’s comments were “alarmist” and had “exaggerated” the situation.
He said the issue was further complicated because some officials didn’t understand the registration rules.
That may be why a number of English-speaking students have come forward to complain they were unfairly denied the right to vote.
In one case, a McGill University PhD student said he was turned away even though he has lived here since 2008 and only takes three weeks vacation a year from his lab work.
Sean Beatty, a 31-year-old from British Columbia, was so frustrated he secretly recorded an exchange with election officials and posted it online, where it quickly made the rounds on social media.
“Someone who doesn’t have a driver’s licence, a medicare card and claims to be a resident and in terms of being registered on the electoral list, it doesn’t match,” he was told by an Elections Quebec employee.
“What is posted on the site is misleading,” she added.
“We’ve been loaded up with English students like your case who are trying to register.
“I suggest that you complain to Quebec.”
Listen to the exchange here:
Beatty said he has voted previously in a federal election in Quebec, and was compelled to register in the provincial election this time because he disagrees with the PQ’s proposed charter of values.
“I’m really disturbed by the way the process is set up, the idea that someone can deny you the right to vote without requesting any additional documentation or having an appeal process,” Beatty said in an interview.
Beatty said he presented his passport and utility bills and that he has previously filed taxes in Quebec, though he has still has a British Columbia health card.
To register in Quebec, Dion said a voter must be a Canadian citizen and have lived in Quebec for six months. They must also have the intention of making Quebec their home, a term that’s open to interpretation.
Dion said officials also take into account other evidence, such as proof of a bank account in a Quebec institution, a Quebec health insurance card or driver’s licence, or a Quebec income tax return.
© 2014 The Canadian Press