Regional and departmental elections are held in France on June 20 and 27. Almost all French voters (96.3% of the 47.5 million registered voters) are thus called upon to elect their regional council on the one hand and their departmental advisers on the other.
While France sees the Covid-19 epidemic receding on its territory, these elections still pose – and in more than one respect – a significant logistical challenge. Double ballot, health protocol and proxy, here are the latest rules in force.
One election day, two ballots
For the first time this year, regional and departmental elections are being held simultaneously, but the fact remains that they are two very different ballots. Thus, except for the few communities which will organize only one ballot (Paris, metropolitan area of Lyon, Corsica, Martinique, Guyana and Mayotte), “Polling stations and electoral operations [devront] to be physically split “, thus specifies the circular of the Ministry of the Interior, dated April 28 and dealing with “The material organization and the process” of these elections.
So that the votes cast are “Collected separately”, the polling stations can be installed in two different rooms “In the same building” or “In two buildings in the immediate vicinity”, notes the circular. In this configuration, a precise and clear display should indicate to voters the location of the two polling stations.
A second solution offers to keep the two separate offices in the same room, “Sufficiently large” to respect, moreover, a physical distance of 1.5 m between people. At that time, and for “Avoid any confusion in the minds of voters”, a physical separation (barrier, tape, etc.) must be erected between the two areas, “Fitted out[s] in an autonomous polling station ” with their own voting table, transparent ballot box and discharge table.
On the other hand, the number of voting booths will not have to be doubled. But it will be necessary, however, that the voting booths are exclusively assigned to one or the other of the ballots – the same voting booth cannot thus accommodate, once, a vote for the regional then, another time, one for the departmental. Also, the presidents and office secretaries can be pooled when the two ballots are held in the same room, unlike the assessors, however, who must be “Two at least (…) for each ballot “. Last possibility: the use of a voting machine, for the two ballots simultaneously or for only one of the two.
A reinforced and amended health protocol
While SARS-CoV-2 entered our daily lives over a year ago, health protocols have evolved as our knowledge of the virus has become more precise. Thus, on the model of the second round of the municipal elections, which was held on June 28, 2020, physical distancing measures (a gauge of 9 m2 per person and no more than three voters per ballot present simultaneously in the room) and wearing of the compulsory mask were taken. The markings on the ground and the development of a “Voter path” to avoid crossings have also been renewed, as well as the possible use of protective Plexiglas walls. Voters are also invited to bring their own pen when signing off.
The novelty for these regional and departmental elections nevertheless lies in the possibility of “Designate an outdoor location as a polling place”, provided that the smooth running of electoral operations is ensured. The conditions for holding polling stations have also changed with the French vaccination campaign, the scientific council recommending to “Seek priority for vaccinated or immunized people”.
To do this, certificates of priority access to vaccination were issued to the members of the offices as well as to the assessors. And, in the event that the vaccination is not complete at the time of the poll (with the administration of two doses for people who have never contracted Covid-19 and one for those who have already been sick), the organizers will have to show a negative test within 48 hours.
Proxy voting “made widely possible”
However – and despite all these precautions – the scientific council, which guides the government in its management of the Covid-19 pandemic, recalled that “Proxy voting [devait] be encouraged and made widely possible ”, due to the health context. The procedure, simplified in 2003, allows voters, absent during the polls or not wishing to go to a polling station, to designate a trusted person, responsible for placing a ballot in the ballot box for them.
The voter thus chosen must be registered in the same municipality, but not necessarily in the same district or polling station. This proxy can be valid for the first round only (June 20), the second round only (June 27) or for both. On the other hand, the designated voter will necessarily vote for you for the two ballots, regional and departmental.
It should also be noted that the proxies already sent for the ballots initially scheduled for June 13 and 20 remain valid on the staggered dates. Today, moreover, there is no legal provision establishing “Deadline for the establishment of a proxy” but delays “Routing and instruction” are still to be taken into account. Exceptionally for these regional and departmental elections, a voter can vote for two other voters (instead of just one in France in normal times), if they have established proxies.
A novelty further facilitates the request for a proxy. The circular “Instruction relating to proxy voting” introduces the new Maprocuration.gouv.fr teleprocedure which, since April 6, allows the form to be filled out directly online. Provided with a registration reference and an identity document, it is still necessary to go in person to the gendarmerie or the police station, but the passage should be facilitated.
In addition, historical procedures are still accessible. Either by filling out the form available on the Service-public.fr site, then bringing it in person to the gendarmerie, the police station or the court; or by going directly to the competent services to complete the form on site. If you cannot physically go to the police station or the gendarmerie, a judicial police officer or agent can come to your place of residence.