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Why You & Most Montrealers Probably Didn't Go Vote For Mayor

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Why You & Most Montrealers Probably Didn't Go Vote For Mayor

Statistically speaking, you probably didn't vote in the recent Montreal mayoral election — but the province's voting authority, Élections Québec, wants to change that.

In a statement shared with MTL Blog, Élections Québec said that "factors that influence voter turnout are numerous and it is difficult to identify whether one element is more critical than another."

The organization is now working to "understand why a significant proportion of electors do not vote."

Why didn't most people vote?

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.