Almost 30,000 fewer Montrealers are registered to vote than in 2017, but advance turnout way up

Nearly 30,000 names are gone from Montreal's voter rolls, compared to the last municipal election.

In 2017's election, 1,142,948 people were registered to vote by the deadline.

This year, it's only 1,111,100, according to statistics published recently by Elections Montreal.

That's a loss of 31,848 voters, even as Montreal has continued to grow in the last few years, albeit much more slowly during the pandemic.

Despite the reported flood of people leaving for the suburbs in the last few years, Quebec's statistical office found that population growth in Montreal simply slowed to much lower levels, namely 2.3 per cent in 2019-2020.

It wasn't negative growth, i.e. an overall loss of people, though the numbers for the current year haven't yet been released.

In the years before, since 2017, Montreal was growing at a fast clip, with 37,000 moving to the city in 2018-2019 alone.

This year's electoral roll is closer to 2013's roll, when the city's population was lower. That year, there were 1,101,998 eligible voters, according to Quebec's municipal affairs office.

That's 9,102 fewer than this year.

Many were frustrated this fall by the process to ensure they were registered, which was hard to understand due to document design, and which required them to go in person and wait in line at a registration office.

“It goes without saying that this is a huge drag for anyone wishing to exercise their right to vote,” political analyst Raphaël Melançon told CTV at the time.

“It seems to me that everything should be done to facilitate voter registration, especially in municipal elections where the turnout is already very low.”

Montreal’s last election had just over 42 per cent turnout.

MORE THAN DOUBLE THE TURNOUT AT ADVANCE POLLS

Still, Montrealers seem more eager than ever to vote, if the last weekend was a good indicator.

Nearly 13 per cent of Montrealers voted last weekend, when advance polls were open on Saturday and Sunday, Elections Montreal told CTV News.

Regular voting takes place this Saturday and Sunday.

By 8 p.m. Sunday, when advance polls closed, 12.9 per cent of voters had already cast a ballot.

That's more than double the number from 2017, when just 5.6 per cent of Montrealers took advantage of advance voting, according to the agency's report on the last election.

In 2017 that was a total of 64,311, suggesting that somewhere close to 150,000 people turned out for advance voting this year.

In the last election, people had another advance voting option, as well -- casting a ballot at local elections offices on other days, rather than public poll stations -- but only 2.26 per cent took advantage of that, meaning this year's numbers are still far higher.

On the other hand, maybe Montrealers have just begun to rely more on advance voting in the COVID-19 era. Elections Montreal will be publishing turnout statistics throughout the weekend to give a bigger picture.

VOTING BY MAIL REQUESTS

Another 6,111 people successfully signed up to vote by mail. An issue of some controversy, especially given the pandemic, the city only allowed this option to people who are housebound for medical reasons or living in some care homes.

That included people who knew, by the deadline of Oct. 27, they they'd be in COVID-19 isolation, which ended up being 2 per cent of those 6,111, according to Elections Montreal statistics.

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