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3rd-year McGill student told he can't vote in Quebec election

03/20/2014 10:01 EDT | Updated 05/20/2014 05:59 EDT
Some out-of-province university students who are living in Montreal say they feel they are being prevented from voting in the upcoming Quebec election.

Dune Desormeaux, who is originally from British Colombia, has been living in Montreal and attending McGill university for three years.

Desormeaux said went he went to register his name of the electoral list, he was told he couldn’t vote in these elections.

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

He said he asked the revision officer whether the answer would be the same had he not volunteered that he was a student.

He told CBC Daybreak host Mike Finnerty that the agent said it could have been possible he would have been eligible.

He’s 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 health care 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.

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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