Delays, power failures, but overall strong voter turnout
In what appears to be a good sign for democracy, 52.5 percent of eligible voters in Quebec cast their ballots by 5:30 p.m. on election day.
16.6 percent of Quebec's 5,919,778 voters used advance polling to determine their choice for government.
There were no major problems reported with the voting process, although construction knocked out power at one polling station at Coloniale and Villeneuve, forcing voters to wait slightly longer and navigate through the station via flashlight.
Another long line was reported at Berri and Laurier, once again the result of nearby construction. Power failures were also reported at polling stations in the Nelligan riding.
However, there have been several cases of people discovering they were not registered to vote.
Sharon Cleary voted in her first provincial election 37 years ago, but on Tuesday was told she was not eligible.
"I was born, raised in Quebec, I'm a tax paying citizen and I'm refused my right to vote in this election," said Cleary.
Cleary's brother and partner, who all live at the same address, received their confirmation notices in August, but her name was not on the list.
"When I received that notice I phoned the number that's on it and asked 'What do I have to do?'" said Cleary.
The answer: bring her lease agreement and photo ID to Elections Quebec, but Cleary said she was not told of the August 30 deadline.
She is not alone. CTV Montreal has been told of dozens of people who were turned away at the ballot booth.
In several cases it appears people received notices addressed "to the elector" at their home, and mistakenly believed that meant they were on the voting list.
If you have been denied the right to vote and think it's an error, let CTV Montreal know.
PQ remains odds-on favourite
After nine years of Jean Charest's federalist Liberals at the helm, pollsters say the sovereigntist Parti Quebecois is poised to form a minority government.
Recent polls rank current Premier Jean Charest's Liberals a close third, behind the PQ and the newly-formed Coalition for Quebec's Future (CAQ).
Nearly one in five voters were undecided ahead of election day, however, leaving the door open to a three-way split at the ballot box.
Early Tuesday morning PQ leader Pauline Marois came out to vote alongside her husband, Claude Blanchet at a polling station in Beaupré east of Quebec in the riding of Charlevoix-Côte-de-Beaupré.
Marois praised voters who were lined up early to cast their ballots and said that it could be a historic day for the province, as Quebec could vote in its first woman leader.
“I won’t hide that I’m hoping it happens tonight,” she said.
When asked how long she’s been preparing to become premier, she said, “It’s been the last 30 years.”
CAQ leader Francois Legault, voting in his home riding of l’Assomption, also stated that today is a day for the books.
“It’s a historic day, we’re putting aside referendum talk and launching real change and the cleanup and recovery of Quebec,” he said.
Legault must first win his riding, where he faces PQ candidate Lizabel Nitoi, a teacher, and Liberal candidate Lise Hebert, who works as a sales consultant.
Meanwhile, a hoarse Premier Charest attempted to shore up some last minute votes in the all-important area ringing the island. He stormed a half-dozen ridings, including several in Laval where he shook hands and embraced supporters.
He spoke little, however, as his voice prevented him from making his standard rally speech.
Monday's final pitches
In their final pitches to voters Monday, the three party's leaders drove home their key campaign messages.
Addressing voters in Quebec City, where polls suggest the ten-month old CAQ is leading, PQ leader Pauline Marois said a majority mandate would get her party to work.
"We don't want to find ourselves in an election (again) in six months," she said.
Jean Charest continued to sound a warning bell, telling Quebecers his party would be the only one to ensure economic and political stability in the province.
“I think they understand, better than they did at the outset of the campaign, that Mme Marois’ government will be about referendums, about division, political instability and economic instability,” Charest said in his own Quebec City campaign stop Monday.
“And the last thing in the world we need is that.”
And CAQ leader Francois Legault, who has courted the province's Anglophone voters with a promise not to hold an independence referendum for at least ten years, touted his platform for change in hotly-contested Montreal-area ridings.
"We will clean up government, we will clean up the bureaucracy," he said, accompanied by anti-corruption whistleblower Jacques Duchesneau.
Both Legault and Charest have tried to use the prospect of a sovereignty referendum as a way to lure votes away from Marois, who has said she would like to hold a third independence vote -- but only if the conditions are right.
According to McGill University political science professor Antonia Maioni, even if the PQ manages to win a majority government Quebecers likely won’t be asked to vote in a referendum until late in their term.
“Marois wants to make sure that she has the winning condition before she goes to the Quebec people,” Maioni told CTV News on Monday. “And it doesn’t look like support for sovereignty will give her a winning referendum any time soon.”