Quebec student believes he can’t register to vote because he's anglophone
David Rockne Corrigan, Kevin Newman Live
Published Wednesday, March 26, 2014 8:31PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, March 27, 2014 1:38PM EDT
Another day of confusion and frustration in Quebec as some students continue to have problems registering their vote.
After a recording emerged over the weekend of a 31-year-old student being denied the vote, Kevin Newman Live received an email from another student who believes he was turned down because he presented himself as an Anglophone.
In the recording, McGill University student Matthew Satterthwaite places a call (in French) to the Directeur général des élections du Québec. He is told that the documentation he has is sufficient to register.
Skip ahead to the five-minute mark of the video above to see our full interview with Satterthwaite.
Later that day, Satterthwaite went in person to the office of the DGE, where he presented himself as Anglophone.
Here's where it gets tricky—Satterthwaite was born in Quebec, but moved to Ontario with his parents when he was in grade school. He has lived most of his life in Ontario, though he recently moved back to la belle province to study at McGill. Fluently bilingual, Satterthwaite considers himself both a “Quebecer” and a “Quebecois.”
The board of “revisers” at the DGE disagreed, however. They told Satterthwaite that he was not yet “domiciled” in Quebec, but that he was rather “in the process” of domiciling.
According to the regulations, a qualified elector must have been “domiciled in Quebec for six months.”
The conditions also state that the “notion of domicile can be complex, and questions may be raised as to its interpretation.”
Because Satterthwaite was told on the phone (and in French) that he would eligible to register, he believes that he was denied simply because he presented himself as an Anglo when he went to the office.
“I was told on the phone that it would be fine,” says Satterthwaite to Kevin Newman Live.
Denis Dion, spokesperson for the DGE, does not accept that Satterthwaite was denied because he was an Anglophone student.
“The idea that anglophone voters are being turned away is complete nonsense, fantasy, and lots of other words I probably should not say,” says Dion.
Dion noted that domicile is demonstrated by intention—which includes the necessary documentation—but is ultimately determined by the judgment of the “board of revisers”.
This domicile requirement is unique to Quebec’s civil code, so that is probably why it is such a foreign concept for the rest of Canada, said Dion.
Dion is amazed—though not necessarily surprised— that voter registration issues in Quebec have become a national story.
The DGE does not release statistics about the number of complaints it has received this week.
As for Satterthwaite, he is determined to vote on April 7.
McGill is holding a registration clinic later this week, which Satterthwaite plans to attend. But he will present himself as a Francophone, in order to “play it safe.”
Even though he was turned down, Satterthwaite is not giving up. “I should have the right to vote. I’m not giving up.”
‘Sad’ vote fraud sideshow shows PQ is in panic mode, Quebec Liberal leader says http://t.co/FZrxESnFf6— NP Politics (@nppolitics) March 24, 2014
Quebec is denying anglophone students the right to vote http://t.co/YiBpWiDHdO— Gawker (@Gawker) March 26, 2014