Montreal students told they can't vote in Quebec election

Some Montreal university students from out-of-province say they feel they are being prevented from voting in the upcoming Quebec election.

'Domicile' status prevents Dune Desormeaux and Angela Larose from registering to vote

Dune Desormeaux, a McGill University student who has been living in Montreal for three years, was told he could not vote because he hadn't been 'domiciled' in Quebec for at least six months. (Rebecca Ugolini/CBC)

Some Montreal university students from out-of-province say they feel they are being prevented from voting in the upcoming Quebec election.

Dune Desormeaux, who is originally from British Columbia, has lived in Montreal and attending McGill University for three years.

Meanwhile, Angela Larose from Ottawa has lived here four years while studying at McGill.

How many other people in Quebec are turned away to vote based on interpretations of "domicile"?- Angela Larose, McGill student

Both Desormeaux and Larose said when they went to register, they were told they couldn't vote in this election.

“They told me I hadn’t been domiciled for six months and therefore wasn’t eligible,” Desormeaux said.

According to Desormeaux, the revision officer told him that if they didn't know he was a student, he may have been eligible to vote.

Larose said she experienced a similar situation.

No Medicare card, no vote?

"The reason given was that I did not have a RAMQ card [Quebec Medicare card]," Larose said.

The website of the Chief Electoral Officer indicates that a birth certificate, Medicare card or passport are acceptable forms of identification proving citizenship. The second piece of identification required has to indicate the potential voter's address.

Larose, as an out-of-province student, is currently ineligible to obtain a Medicare card because of Quebec residency rules. 

"If I could have a RAMQ card, I would. If I could be a resident, I would be," she told CBC News.

Larose said she has a vested interest in Quebec's future and intends to stay in Montreal once she graduates from university this summer.

"I believe I should have the right to vote," she said, adding that she voted in the last Montreal municipal election and voted out of Montreal for the federal election.

Desormeaux and Larose are not alone, according to the managing director of McGill residence life, Janice Johnson.

She said a number of students replied to an email sent out informing students how to register to vote.

We have heard from several students that despite showing up at the electoral division office with appropriate documentation for them to be able to register, they are being turned away because they are only 'temporary' residents of Quebec,” Johnson said.

Proof of domicile

In order to be allowed to vote in a Quebec election, the law states that the person must have been living in Quebec for at least the last six months.

We need to prove his domicile. The board of revisors can ask other documents if it thinks it is necessary to make the right decision … It's the task of the board to interpret the facts under the light of the law and decide whether the person is really domiciled or not,” said Denis Dion, spokesman for the Quebec chief electoral officer.

Johnson says most McGill students began paying rent Sept. 1.

“At this point in the academic year, they have been domiciled in Quebec for over seven months, so they should be eligible.”

But one part of the law is open to interpretation. The Civil Code of Quebec states that "change of domicile is affected by actual residence in another place, coupled with the intention of the person to make it the seat of his principal establishment."

Desormeaux said that, although he doesn’t have a Quebec Medicare card or pay income taxes because he is a student, he has not been away from Montreal for more than a couple of weeks at a time in the past year.

However, Larose does pay income taxes as well as property taxes in Quebec.

"How many other people in Quebec are turned away to vote based on interpretations of 'domicile'?" she asked.

Johnson said that in cases like these, she often advises students to go back to the revision office to contest it with all the appropriate documentation.

The deadline to register to vote is April 3 at 2 p.m.


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