Will the first round of the upcoming French presidential election to be held in Atlanta on Saturday, April 22, and in France on Sunday, be the end of a campaign that has 11 candidates and could finish off the European Union and doom the euro?
Not likely, according to pundits, who indicate that none of the candidates will reach the required 50-plus percent of the vote to end the threat of a “Frexit” and the collapse of a Western world order pretty much in place since the end of Second World War.
In view of growing skepticism about the reliability of polling by pundits, however, no one seems to be absolutely certain about what is to take place. Should no one reach the desired 50-plus, a second final round will be held by the two leading vote getters on May 7.
Although France prides itself on its technology and capacities for innovation, when it comes to voting it has opted for traditional paper as in paper envelopes and paper ballots as a means of preventing hackers from invalidating the result. It also maintains its appreciation of posters in an effort to keep any of the candidates from an unfair alphabetical advantage.
How so? The Consulate General of France, located in the Buckhead Tower near Lenox Mall, is preparing for an anticipated 2,400 French registered voters who will be able to vote from 8 a.m. -7 p.m. When they enter the consulate on the eighth floor they’ll see the posters for the 11 candidates distributed according to a drawing that is to replace an alphabetical order.
The consulate requires the prospective voters to bring an approved French or European identification. American driver’s licenses do not qualify.
Voters are to pick at least two (paper) ballots from the 11 that will be placed on a table, including the possibility of a blank ballot, and make their way to a private voting booth where they will insert their ballots of choice into a paper envelope.
They will then go to a ballot box, present their identification once more to the president of the polling station, most likely to the Consul General Louis de Corail, who will inspect the envelope, open the ballot box and permit a voter to slip their sealed envelope into the box, Heather Clave, press attache at the consulate, told Global Atlanta.
After the polls close at 7 p.m., the ballot box is publicly opened and approved volunteers under the supervision of the poll station president are to count the ballots that have been cast.
“What is unique about this system is its transparent, hands-on nature,” said Ms Clave. “Any registered voter can volunteer to participate in the ballot counting process, and the rigorous procedure and clear paper trail leave little room for uncertainty about fraudulent activity.”
Electronic voting, according to Ms. Clave, was initially authorized for the June legislative elections, was scrapped once the National Security Agency for Information Systems determined that there was little chance to guarantee a 100 percent tamper-free election from hackers. The Netherlands also made a similar change after almost 10 years of electronic voting.
The results of the French election are to be announced at 8 p.m. GMT in France and at 2 p.m. DST in Atlanta on Sunday, April 23.
The elections have included a whirlwind of accusations and counter-accusations with competing ideologies and strategies ranging from exiting the EU and dumping the euro to supporting closer European integration. Tensions have been running high throughout the country and were aggravated by the gunning down of a policeman on the Champs-Elysees in Paris Thursday night in an alleged terrorist related attack.
Ms. Clave said that throughout the U.S. there has been an increase of 30 percent in French registered voters nationwide since the last presidential election in 2012. French registered voters in the consulate general’s district including six states, have grown by more than 20 percent to 5,288 registered voters.
Besides indicating the significance of the election, Ms. Clave said the increase in registered voters could be explained by the 12 percent increase in French U.S. residents in the U.S. Southeast. since 2012.
French registered voters in the Southeast also will be able to go to polling sites in Raleigh, N.C., Greenville, S.C., and Nashville, Tenn.