The French Bureaucracy Saga: Decision Made

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Seal of the High Court of Paris

Whenever I have to deal with the French bureaucracy, the following lines from the movie Kill Bill always come to mind:

O-Ren Ishii: You didn’t think it was gonna be that easy, did you?

The Bride: You know, for a second there, yeah, I kinda did.

I thought I had almost “won” the right to vote in the upcoming French elections when I received the email from the High Court of Paris inviting me to send supporting documents to prove I was still living in Canada.

However, time was of the essence. I received the email on April 4 and the court hearing—to which I wouldn’t go since it would be in Paris—was scheduled for April 10.

I started digging into my “French paperwork” folder. Carte d’identité, got it. Expired consular identification card and registration letter, got it. Proof of address, got it. I typed a fancy letter begging the court to forgive my absence and explaining my case and I peppered it with the most formal French I could remember and other considérations dinstinguées.

I was still missing an up-to-date consular identification card and registration letter. I emailed the Consulate in Toronto, and since I never got any reply, I called, left messages, called again and finally, on Wednesday afternoon, I reached a human being who promised to email me a copy of the card.

“By the way,” I asked, “do you think I can email the supporting documents to the High Court of Paris? There are only two business days left before the hearing and unless I use FedEx, no mail service will deliver on time.”

“Oh, I’m sure you can,” the consulate employee replied. “Sorry, I can’t hear you very well… sounds like a seagull in the background.”

“A seagull? Uh… no…”

“Alright, good luck, then!”


I was too cheap to use FedEx (the quote was around $80) so I scanned the all the supporting documents, wrote the email, added the attachments and clicked on the “send” button. Then I sighed and smiled, because you know, it feels good to get things done.

Two minutes later, my computer pinged. New message. I clicked on my mailbox and noticed the email I had just sent to hadn’t been delivered—you know, the usual MAILER-DAEMON delivery failure notice. Weird.

I double checked the address and opened the delivery failure email, something I almost never do because usually, the issue is a typo in the address and I catch it right away.

I read it. Ah. The issue was the attachment… the server was blocking the attachment!

For Christ’s sake…

I check the documents’ properties but they weren’t big, a few kB each. I tried zipping them—nope, bounced back again.

It was 1 a.m. and I was very pissed off.

New message. It was from my aunt who was waking up in Paris. “What are you doing?” she inquired, like she does most mornings.

“Trying to send a fucking email and get through a fucking server who doesn’t accept fucking attachments!” I replied.

(For the French version, just replace “fucking” by “putain de”—this was your French language tip of the day).

“You know what,” she wrote back, “just send me the attachments and letter and I’ll mail them from Paris tomorrow. With the tracking option, it should get there by Friday.”

“OMG, love you!”

I hadn’t thought of involving my French family in the process because I knew there was no way my mom or my dad would make it to the post office on time. But my aunt is efficient and she works in an office environment where she can easily print stuff.

Indeed, she printed and mailed the documents and emailed me the tracking number. The letter was delivered on Friday.

“Any idea how does the court make a decision on cases like yours?” she wrote.

“Nope. Your guess is as good as mine.”

Meanwhile, at home, Feng found the whole saga exhausting. “Your democracy thing is just so… weird,” he claimed.

“Do you know why I did it?” I asked. “Like, why I even bothered appealing the decision, mailing the documents, etc.? Honestly, if I can’t vote, so be it. I may even end up leaving the ballot blank. But if I stop caring about everything, if I keep quiet when my opinion is asked, everything stops mattering. Voting matters. Defending my right to vote matters. My voice matters. So yeah, I did it just for the sake of it. That’s a good enough reason for me.”

Yesterday, I received an email from the High Court of Paris. Attached was a PDF.

I won.

I can vote.

Damn, feels good.

The court decision: I can vote in Canada


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. With how the story was unfolding I honestly did not expect a good ending BUT I am so glad you WON this one!!
    Damn right it feels good.. 🙂 Congrats!!

    • I’m not particularly pessimistic and I knew I had the right to vote but I wasn’t expecting a good, timely ending either 😆

  2. Shannon Harto on

    Good news! And quick (luckily)! I feel like my battles with French admin last forever – currently in two separate ones. What fun!

  3. Martin Penwald on

    Yeah !
    Blank voting is technically différent from not voting but is unfortunately not recognized as such. It’s an interesting voting year in a sense that it is probable that none of the traditional parties will be on 2nd turn, but whatever the result, it won’t change a lot for the vulgus pecus.

      • Martin Penwald on

        J’avais prévu d’aller au bureau d’Edmonton, mais les pièces de rechange pour mon camion n’arrivent pas avant lundi au mieux, le moins coûteux étant de rester sur Minot pour la semaine. Donc tant pis, je m’ai pas pu voter.

        • Ça a été un peu la galère à Ottawa (cf. ce que je viens de publier). Je ne sais pas s’il y avait la queue en Alberta, mais à Montréal je crois que les électeurs sont encore dans la file d’attente 😆

  4. Nous avons eu la chance que notre consulat soit moins “rapide” que le tien. Mais j’ai eu peur quand j’ai lu que tu avais été radiée des listes en mars. Comme pour la tienne, notre inscription avait expiré en 2016. Nous avons reçu un message du consulat nous invitant à vérifier notre situation électorale début mars. Nous nous sommes aussitôt réinscrites au registre et avons reçu (par e-mail) une nouvelle carte consulaire antidatée. Nous avons aussi pu renouveler notre inscription sur la liste électorale via Internet. Et ce matin, nous étions bien sur les listes au bureau de vote. En revanche, nous n’avons pas reçu les bulletins et autres documentations des candidats par la poste.

    En tout cas, félicitations pour ton rétablissement sur les listes.

    • J’ai un couple d’amis qui a été radié aussi, mais qui dépendait du Consulat de Montréal. Eux n’ont pas eu besoin de passer par le TGI, un simple appel au Consulat a été suffisant.

      Je n’ai jamais reçu mes bulletins et les programmes non plus, forcément. Et alors, il y avait du monde au bureau de vote?

      • Nous avons vu les images de Montréal ! Chez nous, c’était plus calme. Nous sommes arrivées pratiquement à l’ouverture et nous avons croisé une personne. Il y avait une femme juste devant nous. Une dizaine de personnes sont arrivées après nous. Ce n’était pas la cohue.

        • C’était ce que j’ai vécu en 2012 aussi, pas de cohue, quelques voteurs ici et là. Je ne m’attendais pas du tout à cette affluence hier!

  5. Happy it ended on happy note ! Voting matters ! Nobody wants another “Trump” wannabe lol !

    I have to renew my Ivorian passport so I’m going to go through Ivorian bureaucracy. Sigh fuck …:(

  6. Congrats! Glad to see it worked out for the best. I looked into it and the only place I can vote is … Vancouver! And I don’t have anyone I would want to ask to vote by procuration…
    TBH, I would rather be able to vote in the local elections here

    • Sorry, totally forgot… but aren’t you Canadian? (to vote in local elections)

      I thought of you actually, I realized you probably would have to travel far if you had voted.

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