The Montreal election saw a low 38.3% voter turnout. Out of the 1,111,110 eligible voters in Montreal, only 425,766 went to the polls.
Élections Québec pointed to three main reasons why people don't turn out to vote: "a lack of time, a lack of interest in municipal politics," and "a lack of knowledge about municipal issues, the candidates and their ideas."
While the size of the municipality doesn't necessarily affect voter turnout, people are more likely to vote if "they have a strong sense of belonging to their municipality," the office said.
"The vote increases with the number of years lived in the same municipality and at the same address," meaning that people who have established roots in the city are more likely to go vote.
Homeowners are more likely to vote than renters.
Officials are also contending with a generational divide — a problem that's bigger than just this one election. Élections Québec says "young people today vote less than young people from previous generations."
It's trying to combat this trend with educational programs and awareness campaigns, including Voters in Training, a mock election in which students vote for actual candidates.
Is online voting a possible solution?
Élections Québec said it's "in favour" of using technology and admitted that "internet voting has the potential to improve access to voting, particularly for certain groups of voters."
In 2020, the office presented a study to the National Assembly that listed "thirty-some recommendations aimed at ensuring that internet voting respects the principles underlying a democratic vote."
However, the office warns against "rushing" the introduction of online voting.
The study identified a path toward testing internet voting — but made clear such tests could only come after a lengthy review of possible challenges.
Among the disadvantages to online voting listed on the Élections Québec website are difficulty verifying voters' identities and susceptibility to "hostile acts." It also says that "there would be no written 'paper trail', so verifying or recounting ballots would not be possible."
"The risks must first be managed in order to preserve the integrity of the elections," Élections Québec said in its statement. "An online voting system must meet the highest standards of accessibility, security and reliability, which takes significant time and resources."
Élections Québec also noted that some evidence shows online voting does not necessarily have an effect on voter turnout, especially amongst young people.
But what exactly is scoring and why are the Montreal police concerned about it?
Scoring "is something that is used to brag on social media [...] people are going to set an objective and they're going to brag about it on social media saying they accomplished an exploit," Richer explained at a press conference on Monday.
In a nutshell, "scoring" can be understood as a social media trend in which criminals use social networks to brag and encourage violent achievements.
The deputy director called scoring a "new phenomenon" in Montreal: "Now we're seeing more and more of it."
He said that while in the past, crime syndicates and organized crime acted in "very precise" ways, now "social media is where it's going on. That's where people are talking to each other, they're bragging, they're settling some scores and after that, they're doing it on the street with real violence."
"Police services have to adapt."
Generally, experts have long argued that social media has drastically changed the face of crime. And with more crime emerging on social media networks, some researchers believe that the police can also use it as an effective tool for fighting crime.
In a March 2019 study on "The Relationship Between Social Media Data and Crime Rates in the United States," researchers at the University of California said their findings suggested it was "possible to identify emerging crime hot spots using social media."
"When we talk about the hottest place in Montreal right now, it's social media," Richer said Monday.
"That's where we want to work; we want to work on this aspect of society that's different than it [was] two to five years ago."
This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
Montreal police have a new initiative to address gun violence in Montreal. At a joint press conference at City Hall on Monday, Mayor Valérie Plante and SPVM Deputy Director Vincent Richer announced the launch of a special forum on armed violence.
This forum will "bring together institutional and community decision-makers to make joint commitments based on a concerted strategy," according to an SPVM press release.
[S\u00e9curit\u00e9 \u00e0 Montr\u00e9al]\nLe #SPVM annonce la tenue d\u2019un Forum montr\u00e9alais pour la lutte contre la violence arm\u00e9e.\n\nD\u00e9tails http://bit.ly/31aa03m
The SPVM will meet with community organizers in a series of meetings this December, and the two-day forum in January "will be an opportunity to find concrete solutions by taking into account the mission, expertise and issues of each partner involved in the fight against gun violence," the release states.
In the press conference, Richer underscored that Montreal is still a safe city despite recent incidents of violence. Compared to other cities in North America, Montreal remains statistically "safe," he said.
Both he and Plante said officials need to address access to and demand for firearms.
"As a police service, we work on the offer and we have to work on the demand also," Richer said. "That's the part where the forum comes into play — working on the demand."
The mayor has repeatedly called for action on the accessibility of guns.
"You can get it by mail; you can make those guns if you have the right printer," she said, expressing hope that the upcoming forum will be an opportunity for experts and community members to weigh in on the root causes of violence.
At an early morning meeting between re-elected Mayor Valérie Plante and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Montreal City Hall on Friday, housing, public transit, the pandemic and most notably, public security in the city were the main topics of discussion.
Montreal's mayor once again implored the federal government to consider banning handguns across the country.
J\u2019ai eu une excellente rencontre avec @JustinTrudeau!\n\nNous partageons plusieurs priorit\u00e9s, dont la s\u00e9curit\u00e9 publique, l\u2019habitation, le transport collectif et le d\u00e9veloppement de l\u2019Est de Montr\u00e9al. Le gouv. canadien est un partenaire dans l\u2019essor de notre m\u00e9tropole. #polmtlpic.twitter.com/B825A1ugNK
"Canada needs to be a country that distinguishes itself from our neighbours to the south," Plante told journalists after her meeting with the prime minister. "Where gun trafficking and the normalization of guns is unacceptable."
In recent months, there have been several reports of firearm incidents, murders and other violent attacks. Most recently, on November 14, a 16-year-old boy was shot and killed near a Villeray high school. The SPVM said that it was the 31st homicide in the city this year.
Public safety and security were hot-button issues during the recent municipal election, as well, with all the candidates presenting plans to target gun violence in the city.
The mayor said Friday that "we should ban handguns and we should be even stronger on assault weapons."
Plante spoke of the need to support this position across Canada, even in places where sentiments about firearms might be different from Quebec's.
"I know that it's not popular everywhere, but here in Quebec, I think we have a consensus that it's the right thing to do," she said.
"Mr. Trudeau showed a lot of openness and he agreed that the federal [government] has to do more."
Newly re-elected Mayor Valérie Plante wants to remove voting barriers so that Montrealers have an easier time voting in municipal elections. But that'll require some cooperation from the city's voting authority, Élections Montréal.
At a press conference on Wednesday, the mayor told MTL Blog that she finds "it difficult that at the federal and provincial levels, it's so much easier to vote. When it comes to the municipal, it's not."
"What I hope will happen is that Élections Montréal will loosen up and make sure that any citizen can go vote."
Statistically speaking, most Montrealers didn't come out to vote in the recent municipal election. There was only a 38.32% participation rate among registered voters.
Mathilde St-Vincent, spokesperson at Élections Montréal tells MTL Blog that "mayor Valérie Plante is referring mostly to the registration to the Electoral list."
"What is important to understand and clarify is that registration on the electoral list is a process regulated by the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities and that Élections Montréal applies the rules, as do all Quebec municipalities."
In Montreal, for instance, registering on the electoral list required individuals to go to an in-person session at an elections office with two pieces of ID to prove their identity and residence. Prospective voters could also mail in a written application to verify the required information.
St-Vincent insists that the organization has a mission "to organize the Montréal municipal election by ensuring that the voting process is facilitated."
In early November, Élections Québec, the provincial voting authority, told MTL Blog that there are three main reasons why people don't vote: "a lack of time, a lack of interest in municipal politics," and "a lack of knowledge about municipal issues, the candidates and their ideas."
"We put so much effort into connecting with the youth or with some communities who don't feel connected, we're able to mobilize them," the mayor said Wednesday.
"But I wonder and I hope that Élections Montréal will do some introspection because it's not fair that it's so hard to vote at the municipal level — it doesn't help democracy — so I hope they do better."
"We are certainly listening to the comments and are open to taking part in the discussion to improve practices within the prescribed legal framework," St-Vincent said.