Saturday morning, at 10:55 a.m. I grabbed my French carte d’identité, folded printouts of the High Court of Paris’ decision and consular registration letter and put all the documents in my bag.

I locked the door, stepped outside and browsed Twitter while waiting for my friend.

“Apparently, there is a long line at the Consulate in Montreal,” I announced when she pulled into the driveway.


Her Saturdays, like my Saturdays, are busy. The plan was to drive to the French Embassy, cast our votes and go home—hopefully the drive there and back plus civic duty would take less than an hour.

In France, elections are always held on Sundays but in Canada, we were voting the day before. For me, Saturday is the day of the week when I attempt to catch up on stuff I don’t have the time to do from Monday to Friday—loads of laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc. I also have to work because last-minute assignments given on Friday afternoon are common in my field—welcome to the life of a freelancer.

On the plus side, I had the chance to hang out with a friend and we were voting for the same candidate, so no political argument in the car.

“The Embassy is closed today,” Google Map warned me. “No, it’s not,” I muttered.

Twenty minutes later, we arrived at 42 Sussex Drive.

“Oh, fuck.”

The parking lot was full and there was a long line outside the building. She found a spot beside a car proudly displaying Mélenchon’s campaign poster on the driver side window and we joined the queue of voters. I checked my phone. Another friend had texted me, she was about to leave home to go vote as well. “Already there. Lots of people, long wait,” I typed awkwardly on my phone. “Crap,” she wrote back. “Coming.”

None of us had expected long wait times. I voted at the French Embassy in Ottawa in 2012. Feng came with me and the task had taken at most ten minutes, in and out.

Once we reached the gate of the Embassy, we showed our cartes d’identité. A few metres further we went through security. We were moving very slowly.

“How come it takes so long?” my friend wondered.

“I don’t know if it’s because there are more French living in Ottawa than before or if it’s because the election feels more important this year.”

“The whole process takes time too… Let’s say three minutes per person, and I don’t know of many we are now but…”

Someone called my name. I turned around—it was an old friend of mine. Like me, his wife and him had been taken off the voting registry, we had talked about it the last time we met, a few weeks earlier.

“Hey, I didn’t know you were voting today!”

“I called the Consulate in Montreal, they said we were on the list after all.”

They live in Quebec, across the bridge. The Consulate in Montreal provides services for French in Quebec while the Consulate in Toronto provides services for French in Ontario and they aren’t on the same page.

“Lucky you! I had to go through the whole appeal process.”

He laughed. “Even voting is easier for us, look!”

Indeed, there were two queues: one for Quebec residents and one for Ontario residents. The former was much faster.


Eventually, we stepped inside the Embassy and the voting ceremonial started.

I showed my carte d’identité and my name was found in the registry (phew!) at the first table. Then I moved to another table displaying pre-printed ballot papers, rectangular white papers each with the name of one of the 11 candidates. My friend and I tried to see which of the 11 piles were the smallest but it was hard to say—which is the point, ballot secrecy and all. I picked a handful of bulletins (left-wing candidates only) and an envelope, then I entered the isoloir (voting booth). I inserted the appropriate bulletin into the envelope, then I walked to the ballot box and showed my carte d’identité once again. The ballot box was opened and I inserted the envelope—a voté!

We left and found my friend in the queue, outside the embassy.

Apparently, in Montreal, the French community was still waiting to vote on Saturday night.

At the time of writing, I still have no idea which candidates will make it through the second round. It’s an unpredictable race. Even if I’m disappointed (and I probably will be), I’m not planning to turn this blog into a political platform. I do believe in democracy and I think the voting system is fair.

We’ll see.

Now, it’s your turn to vote, France! Off to sleep…

Car with Mélenchon’s campaign poster at the French Embassy in Ottawa on voting day
Voting day at the French Embassy in Ottawa, Saturday April 22, 2017
Voting day at the French Embassy in Ottawa, Saturday April 22, 2017
Voting day at the French Embassy in Ottawa, Saturday April 22, 2017
Voting day at the French Embassy in Ottawa, Saturday April 22, 2017
Voting day at the French Embassy in Ottawa, Saturday April 22, 2017
Voting day at the French Embassy in Ottawa, Saturday April 22, 2017
Voting day at the French Embassy in Ottawa, Saturday April 22, 2017
Voting day at the French Embassy in Ottawa, Saturday April 22, 2017

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  1. Holly April 23, 2017 at 7:20 am

    I need to work out how to vote in our next election. Corbyn needs all the votes he can get!

    1. Zhu April 23, 2017 at 6:53 pm

      I’m really curious to see how the UK will vote and where the country is headed. Your vote will definitely matter! Are you registered as a British abroad?

  2. Jackie Brown April 23, 2017 at 10:26 am

    En effet ! C”était plus calme chez nous. Mais peut-être qu’à 11 h, c’était une autre histoire.

    1. Zhu April 23, 2017 at 6:54 pm

      Je crois que l’affluence commençait à 11 h, lorsqu’on est reparties la file s’était bien allongée. Peu de gens sont venus voter au saut du lit 🙂

  3. I Say Oui April 23, 2017 at 10:47 am

    It is so heartening to see those long lines of people waiting to vote! Voting counts. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

    I am so behind on blog reading and look forward to catching up soon!

    1. Zhu April 23, 2017 at 6:55 pm

      I’m really glad people cared enough to come vote 🙂

      No worries about being behind on blog reading! You’re welcome here anytime but I don’t expect anyone to read every single article 😆

  4. Eileen April 23, 2017 at 11:06 am

    Cool! Very interesting to learn how it all works for a French person abroad.

    1. Zhu April 23, 2017 at 6:56 pm

      Thank you! I hadn’t planned to blog about the election but the voting saga turned out… interesting. Or so I thought 😆

  5. Martin Penwald April 23, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    Waow, it is surprising to see these queues. So how long did it take from the parking lot and back?

    [Doing my pedantic asshole, here] In theory, someone who doesn’t take ALL the bulletins shouldn’t be allowed to vote, because one could then prove partly how one’s vote ( breach of confidentiality).
    « Quelles conditions doivent-être réunies pour que le vote soit valide ? »,10055-.html#article328

    For the same reason, all camera capable devices shouldn’t be allowed in the isoloir.[/pedantic asshole]

    1. Zhu April 23, 2017 at 6:57 pm

      I think it took us about 90 minutes in total. Rough estimate, since I was with my friend I didn’t check the time. Definitely more than an hour’s wait.

      We were told to take at least two bulletins but I’ve never been told to take all of them. Interesting. As for the phone, well, good luck taking everybody’s phone 😆

        1. Zhu April 23, 2017 at 11:23 pm

          Rhô… Leur donne pas des idées…!

          1. Martin Penwald April 24, 2017 at 12:17 am

            Si, si. Ou alors on rentre à poil dans l’isoloir.

          2. Zhu April 24, 2017 at 11:22 pm

            Oh, j’en serais capable si je devais exprimer quelque chose. La nudité ne me dérange pas.

  6. Christiane April 23, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    Yay ! Hopefully good outcome !

    1. Zhu April 23, 2017 at 7:00 pm

      Eeekk… not so much :-/

      1. Martin Penwald April 23, 2017 at 11:04 pm

        Le Pen was expected. And Macron, Fillon, Hamon … same difference.
        Note that temporary results show that Macron is far in front of Le Pen, almost 900000 voices, who is closer of Fillon and Mélenchon from 500 and 600000 voices. So, it is more or less what was expected since a couple of monthes.
        Very few people who have voted for Mélenchon or Hamon will vote for Le Pen, and I doubt that the majority of Fillon’s voters will vote for her either, so I guess Macron will get at least 60%.

        1. Zhu April 23, 2017 at 11:22 pm

          I’m not very surprised either. Maybe a bit disappointed… but among the candidates who could realistically win, Macron is probably the lesser evil. I don’t like him but I take him over Le Pen or Fillon.

          That said, I won’t vote in the second round. I refuse to vote for a candidate I don’t really support.

          1. Martin Penwald April 24, 2017 at 12:16 am

            I agree, but first he had the support of Valls (seriously, what’s that?). There is a reason why I call the PS le Parti Social-Traître. Valls is one of them, but far from the only one.

          2. Zhu April 24, 2017 at 11:22 pm

            I remember when I first heard of Macron I asked: “he is left-wing or right-wing?” My brother laughed and replied: “He doesn’t know himself!”

  7. Lexie April 23, 2017 at 11:11 pm

    Beaucoup de gens ont attendu plus de deux heures à Montréal… (Et un certain nombre ont abandonné)

    1. Zhu April 23, 2017 at 11:22 pm

      Je n’aurais pas eu la patience, franchement. C’est ridicule!

  8. MC April 24, 2017 at 3:54 am

    Félicitations ! Chez nous le vote est obligatoire et du coup perçu comme une corvée par beaucoup de gens (et donc, quand ils ont une bonne excuse pour ne pas le faire, c’est bingo !). J’admire donc l’obstination que tu as mis à pouvoir voter même si ce n’était pas obligatoire.

    1. Zhu April 24, 2017 at 11:24 pm

      Je ne savais pas que c’était obligatoire en Belgique! On parle toujours de l’Australie comme “LE” pays dans lequel voter est une obligation. J’aurais appris quelque chose!

      Qu’est-ce qu’on encourt si on ne vote pas? Amende ou plus?

  9. Frenchie au Canada April 24, 2017 at 10:44 am

    It’s amazing how many pple turned out to vote in Montreal! I think it’s the first time I heard so much about the French population in Canada in French media in a long time (bcse of course only the expats in Montreal counts 😉 )
    The results reminded me of being in high school and aller manifester pour la premiere fois contre Le Pen le pere…
    Quant a Macron, je dois dire que j’avais peur de voir qui d’autre aurait ete au deuxieme tour avec Le Pen donc finalement ce n’est peut-etre pas si mal?

    1. Zhu April 24, 2017 at 11:26 pm

      Oh, je me souviens de la manif spontanée en 2002… l’une des dernières que j’ai faites en France. C’était beau, car vraiment spontané, les gens sortaient de chez eux abasourdis. Maintenant, on n’a plus la même réaction… on savait que la bête immonde allait faire un haut score :-/

  10. Martin Penwald April 24, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    Tiens, c’est marrant la non-affiche des fachos. Ils vont encore en profiter pour geindre qu’ils ont été censurés par l’État alors qu’ils n’ont pas été foutus de transmettre leur affiche dans les temps.
    ‘faudrait voir, mais il me semble que les fachos ne font pas un gros score à l’étranger, donc il semble logique de ne rien dépenser pour l’étranger. Et si en plus on peut en profiter pour se plaindre du vilain état sous la coupe du complot judéo-maçonique des médias, c’est tout bénèf.

    1. Martin Penwald April 24, 2017 at 3:13 pm

      Je viens de vérifier sur le site du ministère, et, en effet, les très fachos font de très mauvais scores à l’étranger. Pas plus de 7% au premier tour depuis 2002, et même là, au 2ème tour, papa gros con de facho a fait à peine plus de 8%, alors qu’il faisait presque 18% au niveau national.
      [Bon, cela étant, Sarko a quand même gagné en 2007 et 2012.]
      Cela explique pourquoi ils ne se sont pas emmerdés à envoyer des affiches pour les circonscriptions de l’étranger.

      1. Zhu April 24, 2017 at 11:29 pm

        Ça fait quand même haut, quoi :-/ Merde. Genre tù,es à l’étranger et t’aimes pas les étrangers. Ils n’en sont plus à une contradiction près, je sais, mais quand même. Ou c’est la France coloniale qui vote FN à l’étranger.

        1. Martin Penwald April 25, 2017 at 11:16 am

          En effet, c’est probablement un truc du genre. Tiens, en 2012, le seul pays où Le Pen est arrivée en tête, c’est au Soudan du Sud, avec 28,57% des votes exprimés (bon, c’est-à-dire 4 votes sur 14).

          1. Zhu April 26, 2017 at 7:55 pm

            Je viens de recevoir le décompte des votes pour le Canada, et 212 pour Le Pen, quand même :-/

    2. Zhu April 24, 2017 at 11:26 pm

      Apparemment, ils ont boudé TOUS les bureaux de vote étrangers. J’ai vu ça sur Twitter. Ça doit effectivement être un complot.

      1. Martin Penwald April 25, 2017 at 11:19 am

        De ce que je comprends, c’est l’État Français qui s’occupe de la distribution des affiches vers les consulats et ambassades, mais il faut que les candidats fassent parvenir leur matériel électoral a une certaine date, ce que les fachos n’ont pas fait. C’est du tout ou rien.

        1. Zhu April 26, 2017 at 7:55 pm

          Intéressant, je ne connaissais pas la procédure. Bon, Le Pen est donc nulle en deadline.

  11. Mel April 24, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    Thanks for the shout-out 🙂 My mom ended up waiting nearly three hours in Toronto. Here’s hoping the next round is better organized.
    Also, could we maybe look into saving some paper? The French voting system is so NOT environmentally friendly!

    1. Martin Penwald April 24, 2017 at 3:24 pm

      Electronic voting (whatever form it takes) is NOT, CANNOT be, democratically friendly, so, no. If I had to choose between democracy and environment, I’ll choose democracy.
      It is a pity I had to remind that to Frédéric Lefebvre, deputy of the first circonscription of French established outside France just this morning.

      1. Zhu April 24, 2017 at 11:29 pm

        Did he ever reply to you? I contacted him in the early stage of my voting battle and he never replied.

        1. Martin Penwald April 25, 2017 at 12:07 pm

          Not yet.
          But for me, it is inadmissible that an elected official don’t know the base principles of democratic voting, and I, maybe, suggest it in my e-mail.
          By the way, Canada do not have anything close to an urn conforming to French rules about democratic process that they have to come from France.

          1. Zhu April 26, 2017 at 7:57 pm

            It’d be curious to know if he replies. Let me know!

    2. Zhu April 24, 2017 at 11:28 pm

      I don’t think I’m going to vote in the second round. I’d vote “blanc” because I refuse to vote for “la bête immonde” and Mr. Liberal. Normally, I’d still go to the booth to put nothing in the envelope but if I have to wait for a long time to do it… I’ll skip it.

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