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When cash enables democracy

Categories : Uncategorized
December 2, 2016
Published in : Coins, Costs of payments, Europe, Universality
Voters in the French primary were required to pay €2 in cash. La Poste earned a commission of €750,000 to process the coins.
Guillaume Lepecq

On 20 and 27 November, the French centre-right organised their primary in view of the forthcoming Presidential election in May 2017. This is the first time they’ve organised a primary. The left had their first one in 2012.

In order to vote, one had to sign a charter summarising the values of the party and pay two euros. Over 8 million voters showed up during the two rounds of voting. This is quite a success considering that 37 million people voted in the second round of the last elections.

But how did they pay? By card? By mobile? Through a custom-built app? By cheque?

No. They paid in cash. They were even invited to provide the correct change. Assuming they paid with a €2 coin, that amounts 8 million coins for the two rounds of the election. That represents 80 tons of coins, collected in over 40,000 security bags. But it represents less than 0.2% of 5.7 billion €2 coins in circulation.

According to the French press, the French mailing company, La Poste, which was mandated to process the coins, charged a fee of €750,000. That may seem like a hefty price but consider that there were 10,000 polling stations throughout the country and that La Poste mobilised 2,200 branches and ran a hotline manned by 12 people. The commission represents 4.69% of the total value.

If voters had used Paypal for instance, they would have paid a commission of 3.4% + €0.25 per transaction. For a €2 transaction, that represents 31.8 cents per transaction or a total of €2.544 million.