Will the little hands essential to the smooth running of the poll be missed? Four weeks before the second round of municipal elections, set for June 28, town halls and candidates have already left in search of assessors. These citizens, at least two with a president per polling station, must ensure a presence throughout the day. Recruiting them looks more complicated than usual, two and a half months after the first round which had taken place in full expansion of the coronavirus epidemic.
At the time, on March 15, several volunteer officials (assessors, tellers, presidents of polling stations, often involved in political life) had estimated to have been contaminated that day. Many others believe they have taken far more risks than they thought. And already, some volunteers of the first round indicate that it would be necessary to count without them this time.
"Now we know the consequences of coronavirus"
“I had a stroke a year ago and I am at risk, as my doctor told me. I decided not to be a new assessor because now we know the consequences of the coronavirus, ”says Eric Drelon, candidate (eliminated) on the environmental list in Sequin (North). "This time, I pass my (second) turn," has also already acted a lawyer in Nantes, as he wrote on Twitter by sharing an email received from the municipality.
🗳🦠😷 This time, I pass my (second) round # Municipales2020 # covid19 #secondtour # 28juin2020 #presidents #assesseurs pic.twitter.com/6LlgFYyXOQ- Matthieu Bourdeaut Associate Lawyer B2A.LEGAL (@BourdeautAvocat) May 27, 2020
“There is a known health risk in enclosed and poorly ventilated places. I apply the precautionary principle, "says Margaux Vidal. Candidate on the socialist list in Lyon, she has not yet made her final choice for June 28.
As for town halls and candidates in some of the 5,000 cities concerned, we refuse to panic. "We quickly made a checklist to know if we will have enough people, and people responded present," reassures Michelle Lutz, councilor of Mulhouse and candidate for his re-election. 64 polling stations, equipped with electronic voting machines (a rare feature in France), are to be held in the metropolis of Haut-Rhin "We relaunched this weekend, the feedback is rather positive and people will be generally present ", Supports Geoffroy Boulard, mayor of the 17th arrondissement of Paris.
“We started going to see the volunteers in the first round, very few tell us that they don't want to do it again because they are afraid. Our polling stations are quite large and we are well organized ”also wants to believe Philippe Laurent, mayor of Sceaux (Hauts-de-Seine) with 14 polling stations to manage.
It must be said that the sanitary measures will be more drastic on June 28. Where few voters and assessors wore a mask on March 15, this time it will be compulsory for everyone: voters will be required to wear a classic protective mask, and assessors will be provided with a surgical mask (Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, the president of Debout la France, even asked on May 25, on France Bleu, that they be equipped with FFP2 masks).
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“On March 15, we had hydroalcoholic gel, markings on the ground, but the voters were not sufficiently sensitized and we were missing masks. It was a friend assessor in another office who gave me one, ”recalls Eric Drelon.
Each voter will also be required to bring their own pen, said Interior Minister Christophe Castaner on May 22. Some municipalities, such as Sceaux, also plan to install plexiglass barriers at the tables. “On March 15, the assessors were told to avoid touching identity documents. There, with a wall, it will suffice to show the identity document and the voter card through the window, "says Philippe Laurent, also secretary general of the Association of Mayors of France (AMF).
VIDEO. Castaner: "The voters will have to wear a mask" to go to vote
So many arguments which are put forward by the candidates to convince assessors. “Our hygiene protocol in the first round had been validated but, if a person does not wish to return, I will respect their choice. Here, everyone in their environment has seen sick people or die, ”says Michèle Lutz.
Departures on vacation
Will this be enough for D-Day? In the event of a shortage, the electoral code usually provides that the oldest voter in the municipality can be appealed to, then the youngest voter. A decree of May 27 this time provides for mobilizing the youngest voter, then the second youngest voter, so as not to force the citizens most vulnerable to the coronavirus to come.
More than the health context, it is especially the start of the holidays that worries many mayors. "A certain number of regulars will not be there this time because many people will have left on June 28, especially after two months of confinement," fears Philippe Laurent. In terms of participation, this pitfall could be mitigated by the possibility of completing a proxy more easily. However, the assessors must be physically present.