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The French leader’s team presented an amendment in the Senate proposing “advance polls for the presidential election” on a “voting machine”. The text mentioned “a delayed entry into force no later than January 1, 2022”.
The move, which was blasted by opposition parties, even came to the surprise of the rapporteur of the text to the National Assembly, Alain Tourret, a close ally of Emmanuel Macron.
Politico France claims to have surprised Mr Tourret with the news on Tuesday after MPs rejected the amendment as they claimed it could undermine the sincerity of the ballot.
The amendment stated: “Voters can ask to vote in another municipality of their choice, from a list of municipalities decided by the Minister of the Interior.”
This vote would have been done “on a voting machine, the votes of which [would] be counted at the same time as the other votes in order to avoid the risks of fraud or influence on other voters.”
The proposal added: “A delayed entry into force no later than January 1, 2022 makes it possible to provide for the measures of application of this system, as well as the postal voting device.”
Two measures to avoid fraud would have been put in place: “A note made on the electoral list of the municipality of voter registration prevents double voting: the voter who has voted in advance cannot vote again in his/her town. Conversely, if the voter did not vote early, he/she can vote at the polling station.
“It is not possible to vote by mail in the early vote.”
During the last presidential election, Mr Macron said he wanted electronic voting for 2022.
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This is therefore a first step towards keeping his campaign promise, which nevertheless risks attracting much criticism.
According to French constitutional lawyer Jean-Philippe Derosier, the fact that voters could vote a week in advance, as the government wants, means they might not have the same information as those who vote later.
He told France Info: “I have doubts about the constitutional possibility of an advance poll because there is clearly a breach of equality of the voters vis-à-vis the ballot.”
He added: “These voters will not vote at the same time and therefore will not have the same information in the context of an electoral campaign as other voters.
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“There is, in my opinion, a breach of equality which can undermine the transparency of the ballot.”
Mr Derosier claimed advance polls “are diffused over time,” so voters do not “face the same electoral moment, at the same political moment and do not vote with the same information”.
The constitutional expert gave the example of the United States “where advance polling is historic and well established” and the election of Donald Trump in 2016.
He said: “The case of Hillary Clinton’s emails has precisely shown that things can happen on the eve of the ballot, during a period when voters were voting at the advance polls and so there was a disruption.
“Some analysts argue that this is what upset voters and allowed Donald Trump to win.”
Opposition leaders were also quick to blast the French President for his proposal.
UPR leader Francois Asselineau wrote on Twitter: “General mobilisation!
“Voting machines are one of the known means to rig electoral results.
“We must all demand from our parliamentarians that they IMMEDIATELY REJECT THIS AMENDMENT scheduled for 2022.”
Echoing his warnings, Les Patriotes leader Florian Philippot said: “Fraud alert!
“The government wants ‘advance polls’ in the presidential election: the week before the poll, voters would go to an office equipped with a ‘voting machine’, the count would take place on Sunday.
“What is the need to do that if not to commit fraud?!”
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega
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