MONTREAL -- The Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA) is speaking out against the province for what it calls “disdain for the democratic process” following a surprise announcement that schoolboard elections will be held in December.

“Given the urgency of this communication we are, exceptionally, writing to you today in English,” wrote QESBA Dan Lamoureux in an open letter to Education Minister Jean Francois Roberge. 

“Minister, this decision of the Government of Quebec is absurd and should be rescinded.”

On Friday, Roberge announced that school board elections, which had been postponed because of COVID-19, will take place on December 20. 

The elections were originally set to be held on Nov 1. However, most board members were expected to run unopposed. The schools which required an election were all in red-zones, and those elections were postponed 

“This new date is valid for all school boards, even if their territory is considered to be located in a ‘red zone’ by the public health authorities,” read the announcement from the minister.

In an effort to reduce gatherings during the election, the province has added an extra day for advanced voting and allowed regular voting to take place on both the day of the election and the day before. 

Mail-in ballots will be accepted from electors living in long-term care facilities and private residences. Mail-voting will also be available for people in self-isolation, such as those recently returned from an international trip or awaiting COVID-19 test results. 

But the QESBA says that if the province is going to force an election, there shouldn’t be restrictions on mail-in ballots. 

“At least allow unlimited access to voting by mail,” wrote Lamoureux, “in order to protect public health and ensure the best possible opportunity for broad, meaningful voter participation.”