Almost 120,000 French people living in the United States have registered to vote on Saturday, April 22, in the first round of the French presidential elections. The French embassy in Washington has called it an “unprecedented” turnout.
Three days before the first round of voting, a queue has formed along Fifth Avenue in front of the French consulate in New York. Clutching their passports and forms, some 20 people are waiting to sign a proxy voting document. They still have time, as French voters in the United States have until Friday 21 to nominate someone in France or the U.S.A. to vote for them.
“Given the time is takes to send and assess proxy voting forms,” the consulate services generally recommend starting the procedure “at least one month before the election.” However, according to an employee at the consulate in New York, the lists of signatures are recorded and sent electronically to the relevant polling stations. French people therefore have until the closure of their local consulate, on Friday, April 21, to register to vote by proxy via someone they trust in France or the United States.
A 30% increase in registrations
French people in the United States have rallied to take part in the “most important election of the Fifth Republic,” according to Foreign Affairs magazine. Voting registration has increased by 30% compared with the last French presidential elections in 2012. The consulate in Boston has described a major awareness campaign rolled out since last October. French people have also been encouraged to act with the facilitation of a proxy vote registered electronically.
The Houston district covers some 6,900 French voters in Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma, and has already registered 321 proxy vote requests. The consulate in Miami has reported 373 registrations, “a clear increase on previous elections.” The consulate in Washington has announced an “unprecedented” 700 proxy votes, while New York’s consulate recently went over the 1,000-application mark.
Cédric Fichepain lives in Omaha, Nebraska, and relies on the voting office in Minneapolis — a six-hour drive from his home. He therefore decided to appoint his father in Paris to vote by proxy for him this weekend, and his wife asked a French friend who is voting in Chicago. Another voter, Quitterie Rabec, who moved to San Francisco in March and who missed the deadline for registering to vote in person at her consulate, will nominate her sister to vote for her in Viroflay, outside of Paris.
Forty-four polling stations in the United States
Each polling station in the United States will be open from 8am until 7pm (local time). Each person’s polling station depends on their place of residence recorded when they registered at their consulate. The exact polling station was sent to each voter via an email from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday, April 14. On the day of the vote, each person should bring an identity document — a national identity card, a driving license or a passport — as well as proof of registration on the consulate voting lists.
No official election result will be announced before the closure of the final polling station in France, on Sunday, April 23, at 8pm (Paris time), as stated in the French electoral code. However, the results from French voters in the United States will be displayed on the door of each consulate after the count, on Saturday, April 22, at 9pm (local time).