School Board elec­tions - Many vot­ers couldn’t vote

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS - Vic­to­ria Vanier

Turnout for the School Board elec­tions in our re­gion was not too bad when com­pared to the provin­cial rate of par­tic­i­pa­tion which was less than 5 %. In the Hat­ley-Stanstead ward, 14.6 % of el­i­gi­ble vot­ers ac­tu­ally voted, choos­ing Claire Beaubien over Bar­bara Heath and David Wright. In the Len­noxville-Fleu­ri­mont ward, where voter par­tic­i­pa­tion was the high­est of all the ETSB wards at 18 %, Gor­don Bar­nett beat out Steve Coté and Dou­glas Sul­li­van. Across the prov­ince, the voter par­tic­i­pa­tion rate went up for the English School Boards and down for their French coun­ter­parts.

“I was very happy with the re­sults,” com­mented Ms. Beaubien, the re­tired ed­u­ca­tor who re­ceived 51.44 % of the vote while Ms. Heath got 33.45 % and Mr. Wright got 15.11%. “We’ll have our first meet­ing on Novem­ber 25th and I’m look­ing for­ward to that, learn­ing about the com­mit­tees and then choos­ing the ones that are close to my heart,” she added.

As in other wards around the prov­ince, many peo­ple were dis­ap­pointed when they showed up to vote, learn­ing too late that they were not on the ETSB’s vot­ing list. “I know some peo­ple who were angry that they couldn’t vote. A neigh­bor of mine, whose kids all went to English school here, learnt that her name had been taken off the English list and put on the French list. I’m not sure why the gov­ern­ment would want to make it dif­fi­cult to vote,” said Ms. Beaubien.

“We had about twen­ty­five or thirty peo­ple who pre­sented at the polls but weren’t on the ETSB vot­ers list. We also got a lot of phone-calls be­fore the elec­tion from peo­ple who couldn’t vote,” ex­plained the Re­turn­ing Of­fi­cer for the ETSB, Pauline Lazure. “One prob­lem was that many peo­ple

didn’t read the vot­ing card that they re­ceived in the mail, telling them which voter list they were on. Another prob­lem was the time­line be­tween the time the cards were sent out and the dead­line to change lists, on Oc­to­ber 14th; we had eleven days to re­vise the list. Es­pe­cially in ru­ral ar­eas, it can take longer for peo­ple to get their mail,” said Ms. Lazure.

It is the Que­bec gov­ern­ment’s Chief Elec­toral Of­fi­cer who makes up the vot­ing lists, send­ing them on to the school boards. Many peo­ple who thought they could vote in the English School Board elec­tions found out ei­ther that they had never been on the list or that their names had been re­moved from the list for one rea­son or another. For ex­am­ple, once stu­dents hit eigh­teen, even if they have been go­ing to English schools, their names are put on the French school board list. “I think this elec­tion will be an eye-opener for the gov­ern­ment,” added the Re­turn­ing Of­fi­cer.

“We’d like to thank those peo­ple who voted and those who worked at the polling sta­tions. It all went well ex­cept for those who couldn’t vote,” con­cluded Ms. Lazure.

Fol­low­ing Sun­day’s elec­tion, Que­bec Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Yves Bolduc de­clared that, in light of the low voter turnout, big changes would be com­ing to the school board sys­tem.

Photo Stanstead Jour­nal

Gor­don Bar­nett won the Len­noxville-Fleu­ri­mont ward with a land­slide.

Pho­tos Stanstead Jour­nal

A small group watches the elec­tion re­sults at the ETSB head­quar­ters on Sun­day night.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.