The City of Côte Saint-Luc is calling on the Director General of Elections of Quebec, Me Pierre Reid, to offer the option of mail-in voting for voters age 65 and older in the November 2021 municipal elections.
Currently, mail-in voting is available only at Residential and long-term care centres (CHSLD), private seniors homes (RPA) and for people who cannot travel to a polling place. Côte Saint-Luc has argued to officials that because 30 percent of its population is 65 and older, and because public health authorities encourage that age group to minimize non-essential activities, Côte Saint-Luc voters could benefit from mail-in ballots to a greater degree than most other municipalities in two ways: a higher number of total votes cast, and better safety for voters.
“The pandemic has made us re-think how services are offered and what obstacles some in our society face,” Mayor Mitchell Brownstein said. “We hope that the pandemic will be over by November, but if there is still some lingering danger—especially to those with underling medical conditions or who couldn’t be vaccinated—then mail-in balloting is the right thing to do.”
Côte Saint-Luc has presented its arguments to Me Reid directly, as well as to the UMQ and also to Marie-Claude Nichols, MNA, who is the Official Opposition Critic for Municipal Affairs. At parliamentary hearings in March, Ms. Reid specifically brought up the demographics of Côte Saint-Luc and how mail-in ballots could help ensure those who wish to vote are able to. Video from the hearings is available at https://youtu.be/NKshe5JvIfo.
Bill 85 is currently being debate at the National Assembly of Quebec. The proposed Act to facilitate the conduct of the 7 November 2021 municipal general election in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic would include provisions for the Director General of Elections to expand who would be eligible for mail-in voting.
Presently an amendment is being considered by the commission studying the bill to allow municipalities to pass a by-law that would allow individuals over 70 to choose mail in ballots. Côte Saint Luc supports this position.
Copies of the letters sent by the City of Côte Saint-Luc to the Director General of Elections of Quebec and to the Union of Quebec Municipalities are available, as is the resolution adopted by the Côte Saint-Luc City Council.