Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Voting in Quebec, a pleasant experience (unlike the election itself)

Though the Quebec election has been pretty frustrating for the most part, with the major parties deliberately avoiding the crucial topics like corruption, student tuitions, the economy and the environment and instead focusing on emotional and divisive calls to nationalism, the actual act of voting here in Quebec is quite pleasant.

My wife and I decided to take advantage of the advanced polling option and so we went out after dinner to our polling station, a few blocks away.  It was held in the common room of an old folks home.  There was a very short line-up.  Unfortunately, my wife forgot her wallet at home.  We debated about what to do and then asked the woman at the door if we had any options.  It turned out that I could attest (assermenter) to her identity, which involved a little bit of paperwork.  I had to prove that I knew her name, her address and her birthday and then I had to sign a document.  She then voted.

We left and had walked about two blocks when we heard somebody yelling. I turned around and there was the préposé (the official in charge).  He had come running after us.  At first, I thought that I had left my ID there, but it turned out that my wife was also supposed to sign a paper.  It was the first time any of the people working there had encountered this situation, so they hadn't realized it until after we had left (my wife had found it a bit funny that she didn't have to sign anything).

So we went back and finished the paperwork.  Everybody was exceptionally friendly and polite during the entire process.  The whole experience was very pleasant, with a sense of civic responsibility that one can sometimes forget about.  The two people working there were francophones but spoke good english and were apologetic about speaking french when they learned my wife is more comfortable in english. 

It's easy to forget what a warm and open society Québec is when your exposure to it is through the news media.  I am grateful to live in a democracy where I can both make a choice as to who will lead us and interact with the other people in my community in a way that reminds me the pleasure of living in a gentle and civic society.

No comments: