Incumbent Action Laval councillor fears mistake could mislead district’s electors
A misprint on a pre-election voter information card sent out to virtually every address in Chomedey threatens to sow confusion among the district’s electors about which candidate to support on Nov. 7 in the municipal elections.
Potentially costly mistake
On Chomedey (District 14) voter information cards published and distributed door-to-door by the office of the city’s chief electoral officer Valérie Tremblay, the first two out of four candidates listed are Laval Citoyens’ Marie-Josée Duval and incumbent Action Laval candidate Aglaia Revelakis.
The problem is that the chief electoral officer mistakenly listed Duval, whose name appears first in the list of council candidates, as running for Action Laval, even though the card simultaneously correctly states that she is affiliated with Équipe Michel Poissant (which is the alternate name for Laval Citoyens).
What will the impact be?
Just underneath, Revelakis is correctly identified as the candidate for Action Laval – Équipe Sophie Trottier. It is perhaps worth noting that the correct information has been available for weeks on the provincial government’s Élections Québec website.
Despite some acknowledgement of the error from the election director’s office, and a commitment on their part to see that the ballots are corrected by election day, the question now is whether some Chomedey voters will have been sufficiently misled by the error to mistakenly vote for a candidate they don’t actually support.
“Marie-Josée Duval is not with Action Laval and it’s going to cause confusion to the citizens, because they take this card and they go there and they vote,” Revelakis said in an interview with The Laval News this week.
Lucky to have caught error
“This is going to cause a confusion,” she said, while adding that she and her team were lucky to have caught the mistake and advise the electoral office almost immediately “and they’re fixing the problem.”
Revelakis said that when she spoke last week to Tremblay, who is Laval’s chief city clerk, “she called me and said not to worry, everything will be alright.”
She said she told Tremblay that she needed to see a copy of the corrected ballot in order to be able to confirm that corrections were made in time for the advance polls which took place last Saturday.
Legal action taken
“I asked her to send me a copy, she said no, she could not send me a copy,” Revelakis continued. “Finally, she agreed last Friday that I would go there and she would show me the ballot to assure me that everything was okay.
“But at the same time, I asked her to make a correction at each of the polling stations, and make a corrected sign with the names and the parties. But she refused to do that.”
As a result, according to Revelakis, her team’s legal counsel intervened, “because they have to correct this at the door,” she said. She said Tremblay was sent a lawyer’s letter informing her of the course of action Action Laval felt ought to be taken.
A first for everything
“People are taking this carte d’appel [voter information card] with them,” said Revelakis. “When they go and vote with this card, they look at the names. So, I don’t want confusion, because somebody who read the first card might get confused and end up voting for the wrong person.”
More than 6,000 erroneous voter information cards distributed to homes throughout Chomedey will not be replaced
Revelakis, who is seeking her third term as Chomedey’s city councillor, said it was the first time since her first victory in 2013 that she had run into this sort of problem.
“I never heard of this happening before,” she said. “And let’s say we hadn’t caught onto this, people would have gone there and on the voting ballots the problem might have continued the way it was on the carte d’appel. Because usually, whatever ends up being registered on the carte d’appel is also registered on the ballots.”
No new cards expected
Despite the damage, the elections office has no plans to distribute a corrected version of the voter information card to thousands of households in Chomedey. Revelakis said she asked for that, but was told it would not be possible.
In all, more than 6,000 voter information cards were distributed to homes throughout the district. “This was a big error – not something small. And sometimes I wonder whether it was done on purpose. I don’t know. Usually, these kinds of things never happen. So, it’s kind of weird that it happened this time around.”
At Laval Citoyens, the party’s mayoralty candidate, Michel Poissant, told The Laval News he was aware of the error on the Chomedey voter information card, although he didn’t consider it a matter needing to be dealt with as urgently as Revelakis believed it should be.
‘Not important,’ says Poissant
“I’m not sure that it’s that important – Aglaia is much more concerned than us, honestly,” he said. When asked whether he thought the mistake could lead to voter confusion, Poissant tended to agree, but suggested it’s not something that impacts Laval Citoyens – leastways, not in the negative sense.
“To be honest with you, she [Revelakis] is there, she is known and she has a huge advantage, I would say, compared to the others who are unknown,” Poissant said.
According to official results of the City of Laval’s November 2017 municipal elections, Revelakis won Chomedey for Action Laval with the support of 2,083 voters, easily outdistancing her nearest rival, the Mouvement lavallois’s Grace Ghazal, by 863 votes.
Two Trottiers for mayor
In the meantime, the potential confusion caused by the voter card error in Chomedey may only add to a larger situation involving the mayoralty race. This could be the first time in the City of Laval (certainly in recent memory) that two candidates for the mayoralty from two different parties appear on the ballot with names that are as similar as they are in this race.
Indeed, there have been suggestions that some voters may find themselves confused by the fact that Action Laval’s mayoralty hopeful Sophie Trottier and the Parti Laval’s mayoralty candidate Michel Trottier have the same family name.
Revelakis agreed there could be some confusion as a consequence. She said that was why Action Laval had been making efforts in its campaign to emphasize their leader’s first name in order to identify her personally with Laval’s electors as Sophie, and so it would stand out more clearly on the ballot.