School Board elections – were you on the right list?

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Deborah Powell


Deborah Powell

It’s too late for this     election, but be forewarned for the next – when we’re talking about making sure you’re on the voters’ list, it is the citizen’s responsibility! Approximately 20% of those who turned out at the advance poll, for the School Board Elections for Council of Commissions of the Western Quebec School Board (WQSB), couldn’t vote.
Why?
The reason given for this situation was that these people hadn’t followed proper procedure to      transfer their names from the French board’s list (CSHBO in the Pontiac) to the English board, in this case the WQSB. Voters are put on the French list by default unless they have children registered in English schools, in which case they are on the English list.
How was I
supposed to know?
There were small notices on WQSB tax bills notifying voters to make sure they were included on the voters list, as well as ads in local papers. In addition, according to the Quebec elections website, school boards were supposed to have sent out notices by October 4, informing voters that they were on the list. However, several voters complained of receiving nothing in the mail.
Mystery Solved
Pierre Rondeau, president of elections for the CSHBO, attempted to    clarify the mystery; it turns out there is some “wiggle room” in the elections act to the extent that if there is no election in a given area, the electoral list is not revised, and no notices are sent out. This was the case in Bristol (part of electoral area 10 for the CSHBO, which includes Litchfield, Thorne and Otter Lake) where there was only one candidate who won by acclamation.
However, it doesn’t explain why some people in the Shawville-Clarendon area said they didn’t receive anything in the mail. According to Pierre Rondeau, notices had been mailed on October 8; of 4,500 notices sent, only 250 came back to the Board as undeliverable. Rondeau suggested that perhaps recipients of that mailing had not considered it      carefully as it was all in French and addressed to            “occupant”.  By the time notices were received, voters had little time to change their school board affiliation before October 14.
In addition, according to Rondeau, Elections Quebec gave the CSHBO permission to do just one mailing instead of two, which    saved them approximately $8,000 in a year…
where major cutbacks are being imposed from the province. However, this cost-saving measure meant that WQSB supporters didn’t get an early notice that might have clued them into the fact they weren’t on the right         voters’ list.
Following the current school board election period, citizens who couldn’t vote are advised to make the required changes in order to be on the school board list of their choice. Contact the WQSB for information on how to          do this.