French consulate not doing enough to improve voting conditions in Montreal, expats say

Thousands of eligible French voters will once again have only one place to cast their ballot in Montreal when they return to the polls this week for second-round voting in their country's presidential election.

Frustrated French expats lined up for hours to cast their ballot on April 22 outside a private school in Outremont, the one polling station serving the 57,000 registered French voters in Montreal. 

"I hope it will be better on May 6," said French citizen and singer Betty Bonifassi. "But I don't have that impression and we're extremely disappointed."

In first-round voting, the polling station in Montreal was supposed to close its doors at 8 p.m. but the last ballot was only cast around 11 p.m. in order to accommodate the long line that snaked around the block. 

The lengthy wait spurred a petition calling on the French consulate to intervene. It demanded more polling stations in Montreal for the second round of voting, in which voters will choose between the far-right Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron.

Though the French consulate in Montreal has said it won't add polling stations for the second round, it will announce others measures to improve voting conditions later this week.  

"The consulate has worked on it, we've worked with them and all parties met this week to propose solutions and to improve the overall flow at the polling station," said Roland Lescure, a member of the Macron campaign team.

The consulate will unveil the new measures on Tuesday.

In first-round voting, 40.5 per cent of eligible voters turned out in Montreal. Macron earned the support of 37 per cent of them, compared to 6.3 per cent for Le Pen.

Turnout was slightly higher in Quebec City, where almost 45 per cent of eligible voters cast their ballot. Macron received 30.6 per cent of the vote there, compared to 14 per cent for Le Pen. 

Polling stations were also set up in Moncton, Toronto and Vancouver.