Of the 48.7 million people registered to vote in the first round of the French presidential election, more than one in four people chose to stay away. But 226,000 of those who turned out found they could not exercise their right after being mistakenly struck off the voter rolls.
Since the regional elections of 2021, 226,962 voters have been removed from the electoral lists, according to INSEE, which organizes the file.
The most affected areas are Ile-de-France (around Paris), Marseille, Lille and Strasbourg.
Some of the affected voters only discovered that they could no longer vote on April 10 until they reached the polling station.
“When you are told that you have been struck off, and that you cannot vote, it is a very violent feeling”, declared Nicolas, resident of Alfortville in the Val de Marne for 15 years, Told The Parisian Daily. “You feel (like) an arbitrary victim.”
The only recourse available to victims is to take their case to the nearest court, where in the majority of cases they can be reinstated.
Nicolas is now waiting for a decision to be made to be able to vote in the second round on April 24.
The most common explanation for deregistration is that people had “lost connection with their commune“.
Nicolas thinks it’s because he has changed residence several times within the same municipality. And yet his wife was not struck off. “It’s grotesque,” he said.
Errors are largely due to Inseeof the fully automated single electoral file (REU).
Introduced in 2019, it replaced the cumbersome 35,000 lists managed by the municipalities themselves and which risked being duplicated.
Le Parisien also identified bugs in the software used to manage the REU.
10,000 votes canceled
Meanwhile France Constitutional Council – responsible for carrying out spot checks during the ballot – annulled 10,216 of the votes cast on April 10.
Among the 17 reasons given: the absence of the members of the office at the time of the checks; ballot boxes that were not securely locked; voters asked to sign the attendance sheet before rather than after the vote; and significant but unexplained differences between the number of ballots cast and the number of blank or invalid votes.
There were also bizarre cases.
The head of a polling station in Dénipaire, in the eastern Vosges, aggressively prevented a Constitutional Council official from carrying out checks, thus invalidating the vote.
The mayor of Lscale, in the north of Pas-de-Calais, has decided to organize the ballot for the 41 voters in his town at his home rather than at the shabby town hall.
The council considered the place inappropriate and blamed the mayor for not having obtained the necessary authorization. He canceled the vote.
But Mayor Gabriel Trannin holds firm and says he will follow the same procedure for the second round, while officially registering his request with the local prefecture.