Student groups are up in arms over the number of complaints they're getting about students not being able to register to vote for the April 7 Quebec election.
"There's been some clear instances of voter suppression and intimidation lately," said Cassie Smith, who is on the board of directors with social justice student group QPIRG-Concordia. She said there are dozens of reports involving out-of-province students being turned away at the advance polls after showing up with enough proof of residence - or so they thought.
"Some have come to us in tears because of the manner in which they're turned away. We've had reports of students being threatened with being charged with electoral fraud," Smith told CJAD 800 News.
"People who have lived here for almost eight years but because they're a student they're being told that they don't legally live here and so aren't allowed to vote in an election that the outcome of which will directly affect them."
Groups including QPIRG, the Concordia Student Union and the Student Society of McGill University are urging these students to register to vote during the next three days of advance on-campus polling that resumes Tuesday morning.
Samuel Harris, vice president external of the SSMU, said he thought the issue was settled when the Director of General Elections (DGE) issued more precise directives about who's allowed to vote.
"We're still seeing obstacles for a lot of our members," Harris said. He cited the example of one student from Prince Edward Island who renounced her provincial identification cards and got a Quebec medicare card but was still refused at the poll.
Harris said he understands election officials are trying to vigilant.
"I think that it is important to be prudent but at the same time, what I find disappointing is it's open to a lot of interpretation and they're assuming bad faith."
No one from the DGE was available to comment.