Provincial ballot discriminates, Salluit resident says
No Inuttitut syllabics creates low voter turnout in Nunavik
A Salluit man is accusing Quebec’s electoral system of discriminating against Nunavimmiut because provincial election ballots are not printed in Inuttitut.
In an interview with Nunatsiaq News this week, Noel Koperqualuk, 52, said the April 14 provincial election forced many of Nunavik’s unilingual Inuttitut speakers to reveal their candidate choice, spoil their ballots or entirely forgo voting because they could not read the names on the ballot.
“It’s discrimination that’s what I think,” Koperqualuk said. “I know English and French are the official languages but it’s excluding people and it happens all the time.”
Provincial ballots in Quebec contain the names of candidates and their political parties in French and English. The only Inuttitut is on general voting instructions posted inside election booths in Nunavik.
“My 64-year-old friend doesn’t speak English or French so how does he vote? These poor people can’t read the ballots and sometimes have to get help,” Koperqualuk said. “I even hear some people purposefully put all candidates down on their ballots.”
Voter turnout for Nunavik in the April 14 election was only 44 per cent, 25 per cent less than the Quebec average of 69 per cent. Participation in some communities, such as Kangirsuk and Inukjuak, hovered around the 30 per cent mark.
By comparison, the March 28 Makivik Corp. presidential election drew 55 per cent of beneficiaries to the polls.
Jocelyn Levasseur, director of elections for the Ungava riding, said people have mentioned the problems to him in passing but if Nunavimmiut are concerned, they should write a formal complaint.
“I’ve never had a written request but I would encourage that,” he said. “I would pass the demands on to the general director of Elections Quebec and we would look into the possibilities.”
However, he said, altering the ballot to include Inuttitut is unlikely because the same changes would have to be made to all ballots distributed across Quebec.