While Internet voting is often in the news, a bill calls for the introduction of postal voting from 2022. This method would complement ballot box voting and proxy voting.
This was a request from Emmanuel Macron at the very beginning of his mandate: the President of the Republic pleaded for a return to Internet voting in 2022 for French people living abroad. This modality, which existed in 2012, was abandoned in 2017 for security reasons. But instead, maybe the postal vote might be needed, for everyone.
At least this is the request formulated by the deputy Cécile Untermaier, member of the Socialist Party, and several of her colleagues. The elected representative of Saône-et-Loire tabled a bill in the National Assembly on September 21 to introduce postal voting. This would complement the two existing possibilities: the ballot box, by moving to the polling station, and the proxy.
This modality already exists in part for French people living abroad. As the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs reminds us, voters registered on the consular electoral list can ask their consulate to activate the option of voting by correspondence under closed envelope. They will then receive the sending of all the appropriate material to vote.
A postal vote from 2022?
This bill comes at a time when an important electoral year opens in France, with two of the most important elections in the Fifth Republic: the presidential election in April 2022 and the legislative elections in June 2022. Two deadlines that the text would like not to miss . Indeed, one of the articles requires that all the provisions be in force no later than January 30, 2022.
In defense of her proposal, Cécile Untermaier puts forward beneficial effects in terms of participation in elections, while the question of the level of abstention, which sometimes reaches very high thresholds, arises at each ballot. She also cites successes abroad and the benefit that this can bring to frail, elderly, sick or disabled people who cannot travel.
Since postal voting is remote voting, the arguments are not that different from those already heard for Internet voting. This modality was discussed at the time of the first waves of coronavirus contamination to avoid creating clusters in polling stations. It has also been presented as a remedy for abstention, which is far from obvious.
Why was postal voting abandoned?
The elected official nevertheless admits that her project ” is not the solution in the democratic election process. It is simply a question of ensuring that the latter represents a complementary alternative, which citizens who wish can seize it. », She explains in the explanatory memorandum. She recalls that this method also existed in France between 1946 and 1975.
Why, then, to have abandoned it in view of the merits attributed to it? This is because he has also been involved in fraud cases. ” The press of the time is full of stories of rigged ballots She admits. But, he added, ” it turned out that the technique of fraud was not so much postal voting as the deliberate use of electoral lists. “
Several democratic countries with electoral standards comparable to France today use it: Germany, Australia, Spain, the United Kingdom and Switzerland. And the chosen one to add that ” international standards recognize it as a valid alternative voting method, likely to increase participation and strengthen the democratic system. “
” A valid voting method, likely to increase participation and strengthen the democratic system “
Postal voting proved to be a very big subject of controversy in the United States, fueled among others by Donald Trump, then in power. He claimed that this device was riddled with loopholes that would benefit the Democrats to make it lose. However, although it has weaknesses linked among other things to the American electoral system, it is not sufficiently deficient to lead to massive fraud.
To avoid an American-style scenario, where false information has also circulated a lot, the French proposal notably proposes a delivery of the folds within a constrained deadline. She pleads for a verification of the identity of the voter. Finally, a revision of the electoral calendar is requested to leave more time between each round, and thus make room for the postal vote.