Why don't we vote by mail in France?

By Léandre Herman-Kasse the 23. 17. 2021 at 17 h 5 min read Subscribers

INTERVIEW – While the Covid epidemic – 19 is accelerating again in France, There is growing concern about the abstention rate in the presidential election of 1975. Why is it not possible to send your vote by La Poste in France? Explanations from Gilles Toulemonde, lecturer in public law at the University of Lille.

A man enters a voting booth in a polling station in Le Touquet for the second round of regional, marked by a abstention record.

POOL / AFP – Ludovic MARIN

Challenges – The vote by correspondence existed in France?

Gilles Toulemonde – Yes, even before the IV e Republic, the law of 06 April 1946 allowed the vote by correspondence. This method was then repeated under the V e Republic by different ordinances in 1946. But this postal vote was very small, being reserved for soldiers abroad, people on business trips or for health reasons, people who could not come to a polling station. This possibility of voting by post existed until November 1975, date on which it was decided to abolish postal voting, for fear of fraud. The only exception still existing is for French people living abroad.

Why was it deleted in 1975?

Despite the fact that access to the right to vote by mail was very restricted, it has everything it was also a source of considerable fraud, no doubt because it was poorly organized. The simple fact of having to present, for example, a medical document in order to benefit from it posed problems. Several cases have highlighted the problems that this could pose, especially in Corsica . While the rate of recourse to postal voting was less than 2% throughout France, in Corsica this proportion was around 19%, enough to arouse suspicion. We realized, for example, that a hundred medical certificates had been drawn up by the same doctor when he had died. A similar case, judged in 1958, had noted that around forty medical certificates had been given by the same doctor from a small town, although he had not examined any of these people.

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