Investigation opened into Quebec election fraud

Quebec's chief electoral officer will investigate allegations that voting fraud was commited during last year's Quebec provincial election.

Three people claim to have been paid to vote repeatedly on election night.

A report on the CBC's French-language television network, Radio Canada, contained interviews with three people, their faces and voices altered to protect their identity. They say they were paid to vote for the Liberal candidate.

In the item the reporter asks a young man identified only at "Tony" how many times he voted in the advanced poll of the provincial election.

"You personally you voted how many times in Anjou?" "Me, I voted between 18 and 23 to 24 times." "And for who?" "I voted for Lamoreaux."

He says he got paid $10 each time he voted.

The PQ candidate Pierre Belanger lost the election by 143 votes. He says his party has been conducting its own inquiry. He says so far it's confirmed 40 irregularities and several hundred other cases he describes as suspicious. He says the report by Radio Canada is just the tip of the iceberg.

"A lot of persons who were on the electoral list and who said they were not going to vote so they didn't vote, but somebody maybe voted for them. So it won't show any place. There won't be any traces," said Belanger.

The chief electoral officer says he's in the process of verifying the claim. He hasn't decided to launch a full-scale inquiry.

The Liberal candidate who won the riding says he was astonished to see the televised report. He says he knew nothing of the scheme.

Two investigators from the chief electoral officer's office will be assigned to the case.

Liberal leader Jean Charest says his party will co-operate fully with the investigation.