The First General Election
At that time, there was no fixed date to vote. People voted in the summer, usually in June and in July. A polling station was erected where voters came to vote one after the other. Every person declared, out loud, who he or she was voting for, but only after stating his or her name, profession and the place where his or her assets were located. According to the British tradition, the polling station was open from 8 am to 6 pm for at least four days. However, if no one came to vote for at least one hour, three electors could request to close the office. As soon as the election was closed, the election officers announced the candidate elected aloud to the voters that were present. Over time, election candidates would organize to prevent supporters of their opponents to vote. • For a candidates at this time, one of the main strategies to control poling was by hiring a band of enforcers to control access to the electoral office. They prevented their opponents from entering and voting by intimidating the voters. • If another candidate decided to hire enforcers, the situation deteriorated into a battle.
In addition, the electoral law prohibited voting to certain ethnic, religious, or other groups. The constitutional Act of 1791 clearly states that “Any person who is at least 21 years old and who is a British subject by birth or that has become one by the Canadians Assignment of England, has the right to vote provided they meet the requirements of the electoral franchise”, meaning having a minimum of goods specified in the Act. The document adds: “Unlike women in other colonies in the North of Britain, those in Lower Canada who meet the property qualification requirements can vote”. In contradiction, it is also stated in the Constitutional Act of 1791 that women are also excluded- not by a law but by agreement of a vote. In a nutshell, only a small fraction of the female population was eligible to vote in the eighteenth century. This law was removed a few years later. Fortunately for us, these anti-democratic practices are from another era. On October 19th, 2015, all Canadian citizens, men and women aged 18 years and older, registered on the electoral list can exercise this fundamental right to elect the 42nd parliament of Canada. Le marché Saint-Anne, siège du Parlement du Canada-Uni, années 1940, VM6,R3596-2_400_1845-1859-002