The estimated cost of the 2012 general elections is estimated at €169,6 millions in the budget of the ministère de l'Intérieur -of which €16,2 millions shall be transfered to the municipalities as a compensation for induced costs - that's € 3,85 per voter.
Back in the early 19th century when the first elections were organized, the one and only official day off was sunday. Thus efficiency commended to organize elections on that day. However, since 2007 elections may take place saturdays in French Guyane, in the French West Indies and in Saint Pierre et Miquelon - an early knowledge of overseas result might influence voters in the other parts of France.
The boundaries of constituencies and the distribution of M.P.s’ seats must be based on essentially demographic criteria in order to guarantee voting equality. Since 2009, an independent committee publicly expresses an opinion on the Government and Private Members’ Bills defining the constituencies for the election of Members of the National Assembly, or modifying the distribution of the seats of Members of the National Assembly or of Senators.
For the first time in 2012, the French abroad community shall elect 11 MPs.
The system is a single-member majoritarian system in two rounds.
A candidate is elected in the first round if he/she obtains an absolute majority of the total votes cast, provided this amount is equal to a quarter of registered voters in a given constituency.
Protest vote and abstention are somewhat taken into account : to be elected in the first ballot, a candidate must receive the absolute majority of the votes cast and a number of votes equal to a quarter of the number of registered voters.
The second ballot takes place on the Sunday following the first balllot.
Because elections are the cornerstone of democracy, it is the people themselves who exercise their democratic rights by participating in ballot counting.
All polling stations have to fill a report card stating their results by the end of election day. The report card shall state all incidents that may have occurred in the course of the day as well as the results of the polling station.
In the course of the day, the polling station officials ask voters whether they want to participate in ballot counting as tellers. Voters can also volunteer to do so ; candidates can nominate tellers as well.
At the polls closing, the polling station officials count the signatures on the electoral roll. A minimum of four counting tables is organized (the maximum being the number of polling booths in the polling station). Each table fills its own report paper.
The box - that shall not be removed from the polling station until ballots are counted- is opened. Envelopes are counted and their number compared to the number of signatures on the electoral roll. Any discrepancy is mentioned on the polling station report card.
The envelopes containing the ballot papers are grouped in packs of 100. These packs are inserted in envelopes specially reserved for this purpose, which are then sealed and signed by the polling station official and at least two of his assessors.
Those sealed envelopes are then distributed to the tables. Upon opening, the ballot envelopes are counted anew. Any discrepancy is mentioned on the polling station report card.
One of the tellers retrieves the bulletin from its envelope, unfolds it and passes it to another teller who reads aloud the inscription on the ballot paper. To be valid, ballot papers have to be completely unmarked.
If an envelope contains several ballot papers, vote is deemed void if the ballot papers are different. Multiple ballot papers of the same candidate count as one.
Once each and every ballot paper has been counted, each and every now empty envelope has also been counted, each table fills and signs its report paper, and passes it along with envelopes and papers to the polling stations officials, who then fill sign the polling station report card, that becomes then the official result sheet for the polling station.
Results sheets together with ballots boxes, ballot papers and ballot envelopes are then taken to the central electoral office, i.e. the Mairies in the bigger communes, or/then the Préfectures, then transferred to the Ministère de l’Intérieur.
Most official results are proclaimed within three hours after the closing of the polling stations.
Article L 126 of the Electoral code states that "in case of an equal number of votes cast between the two candidates, the elder candidate is elected".