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Quebec election timing is unfair and undemocratic

Set out below is a letter-to-the-editor by Democracy Watch Coordinator Tyler Sommers which was published in the the Hill Times on August 17, 2012

Quebec Premier Jean Charest recently triggered an election which will be held on Sept. 4. In doing so he chose to call the election at a time which suits his party best and which will make it difficult for many people, especially youth, to follow election coverage closely and vote because they will be moving to a new location for college or university, on holiday, or helping their kids start school.

This may be a costly decision with turnout in the 2008 general election at 57 per cent, the lowest in 70 years.  Turnout could be increased if Quebeckers were given the right to vote “none of the above” through declined ballots, the voting system was changed so that the percentage of MNAs each party receives more closely matches the popular vote percentages, and an honesty-in-politics law was passed to punish politicians who mislead the public.

Voters know from their experience of the past few decades of elections that they are not going to get what they vote for and as a result it shouldn’t be surprising to see voter turnout decline to the levels it has recently reached.  Governments must take steps to address the many issues voters have with our democratic systems in order to better represent them, provide them with honest governments, and increase popular support for our democratic institutions.

For more details, go to Democracy Watch’s Voter Rights Campaign page