Long delays as voters cast their ballots in school board elections
Long lines awaited voters Sunday as the first school board elections are taking place for the first time in seven years Sunday.
There were reports of voters waiting as long as two hours to cast their ballots, as well as accusations of voter list irregularities.
At Dorval elementary school on Carson Ave., voters reported that there was only one voting table, and that resulted in lineups out the door, and waits of 1.5 to two hours.
"I think it's totally disorganized, and it's unfair. We've had at least, since I've been here, at least over 20 people leave because they can't wait two hours to vote," said voter Ina Lynn Gray.
"It's very a significant vote and I would never leave, but I'm not happy at all having to wait this long," said voter Sandra Lowson.
In Verdun, 45-minute waits were also reported.
Anyone over the age of 18 is eligible to vote, though voters who do not currently have children in an English school board are not automatically on the English voters’ list.
To vote, you must first determine which voting list you are on, and check the voting card you should have received in the mail identifying your polling station. You will need a piece of ID to vote. Polls close at 8 p.m.
The elections are being held across the province Sunday in the 60 francophone and nine anglophone school boards.
In the English Montreal School Board race, current chair Angela Mancini is running against veteran broadcaster Anne Lagace-Dawson. Both are running a full slate of candidates for commissioners’ seats.
In the Lester B. Pearson School Board race, incumbent Suanne Stein Day is running against Angela Nolet, the incumbent vice-chairperson, and Chris Eustace a retired teacher in the board.
Voter turnout for English school boards last election was almost 17 per cent.
Education Minister Yves Bolduc said last month that Quebec school boards might be abolished if voters turn out in small numbers for elections on November 2, something that was concerning for Mancini.
"They're paramount. The minister has sent a clear signal that's he going to be taking a look at what the voter turnout is going to be," she said.
Stein Day said many anglophones had difficulty getting their names on the English voters' list to begin with.
"I'd say there's thousands of people in our territory and there's probably thousands in EMSB's territory who are going to be disappointed," she said.
Rival Eustace said it is progress to cast a separate ballot for chair and councillors but it may be adding to delays at the polls.
"This is the first time a chairperson is elected by universal suffrage, not elected by a small little cozy country club of about maybe 10, 12, 14 people," he said.
The elections are organized and run by the school boards with little help from Elections Quebec
Nolet said the school boards don't seem to have enough resources to run the election properly.
“It's sad, it really is, that the government isn't covering these elections,” she said.
Lagacé Dowson said the system is letting English voters down.
"It just seems to us that it is a way if disenfranchising people who obviously care very deeply about the English Montreal School Board," she said.