The first round of the elections on Sunday called all 45.7 million French citizens registered to vote, which represents 88.6% of the population over 18 and of French citizenship. However, a significant amount of voters said that they were not able to put their ballot in the urns on Sunday.
Several proxy documents never arrived
The first major issue was due to proxy documents not being delivered to the polling stations on time. In theory, any citizen who cannot go to the voting station themselves and still wants to vote can ask for a proxy. You can go to any police station to sign the documents that will be sent to your attributed polling station and allow the person you chose to vote for you to do so. The deadline for the process is up to the day before the elections. Even though the administration gives a warning that some documents signed 72 hours ahead might not arrive on time due to postal delays, some proxies done months earlier were not delivered on time. It resulted in many citizens queuing up on Sunday, only to be told that the proxy had not been received, preventing them from voting for someone else.
In the city of Toulouse, a software issue even prevented several people from signing proxies as the administrators had to do everything handwritten, thus slowing down the process.
It not only concerns French citizens living abroad, but also all citizens from French-administered territories outside of the European continent who signed proxies in police stations in Metropolitan France. As an example, over 400 people in New Caledonia, an island in the southwest Pacific ocean, could not vote on Sunday.
Citizens were removed from voting lists
The second major issue concerned all citizens who did not notify their city council of a change of address and ended up being removed from electoral lists. Anyone who changes home address has to notify the council before 1st January before the year of the elections. By failing to do so, all important documents are sent back to the council and if the people cannot be traced down, they are removed from electoral lists.
This issue concerned over 7,600 people in Nice, 16,000 in Strasbourg according to the city councils, and many more around the country who also queued up on Sunday and found out that they could not vote. The only way to solve the issue is to take it to court and build a case that will have to be examined by the Court of Cassation, hopefully before the second round of the elections.
The numbers of people affected by these issues are still to be confirmed but many voters keep sharing their testimonies on social media and we now know that it impacted several cities in France. The abstention was up to 23,2 % for the first round of the elections but the part that is due to misplaced proxies it is yet to be determined.
© CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP