University groups say out-of-province students being shut out of Quebec vote

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.

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  1. ric posted on 03/31/2014 06:58 PM
    Isn't anything being done? These GD separatists get the final word? I thought Julius Gray was hired by some of the people to contest this. What's he doing about it? This just can't continue like this. It's like a third world country and we're being held hostage.
    1. Arielle posted on 04/01/2014 06:01 PM
      @ric @rlc Yes. Myself and 4 other students are going to court with Julius Grey tomorrow morning.
  2. SStM posted on 03/31/2014 10:38 PM
    voter suppression is common in many unsavory parts of the world. Remember the south in the USA? Is this practice for the Referendum? The more you hear the word "democracy" invoked, the more suspect it becomes. I'm reminiscing about "no taxation without representation" and "One person One vote" but also remember: it's not just the right to vote that's important, it's also whether or not one's vote is fairly counted. Quebec's history on this is not without doubt. The hanging chad is just another variation on the "x" mark touching the circle that disqualified so many votes in the last referendum.
  3. Jim posted on 03/31/2014 11:37 PM
    This should come to the attention of the U.S.. They are questioning the democratic process of a referendum vote in Crimea when there are clear examples of voter suppression on their very door step. Pressure should come to bear on Canada and more particularly on Québec. They should be held accountable to the Western world. The U.S. and International media could also cover all of the other gems of underhanded manipulations and prejudicial xenophobia that have taken place recently, just to provide some dramatic flare to all of the lunacy taking place in Québec.
  4. Kat posted on 04/01/2014 01:34 PM
    Good men died in how many wars for this?
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