Government to guarantee electronic referendum vote for those living abroad
Catalan Minister for Public Administration, Meritxell Borràs, assured that Catalans abroad will be able to vote electronically in the independence referendum, to take place next September. “If it is referred to in the referendum’s convening decree, the instrument will have to be there”, she said, in response to a parliamentarian question made by pro-independence radical left CUP MP, Benet Salellas. He urged the Government to make a “vehement” statement on the matter, since it has been a growing constant demand for those living abroad. During the 27-S Catalan elections in 2015, 21,771 Catalans abroad requested to vote, but only 14,781 ballots could finally be counted. Borràs considered it a “shame” and confirmed that the Government presented a bill to introduce electronic voting for Catalans abroad.
Barcelona (CNA).- The Catalan Government has repeatedly spoken in favour of promoting electronic vote for those citizens living abroad. The objective is to avoid the problems seen in the 27-S Catalan elections, during which a large number of Catalans living abroad who were entitled to vote couldn’t effectively do so. Catalan Minister for Public Administration, Mertixell Borràs, insisted on several occasions that electronic voting could be promoted with the current legal framework through a decree approved by the electoral law, known as LOREG (an acronym in Spanish for Organic Law of General Electoral Regime). This Wednesday, CUP MP, Benet Salellas urged Borràs to make a “vehement” statement and guarantee that electronic voting will be a reality for the independence referendum, to be held next September. “If it is referred to in the referendum’s convening decree, the instrument will have to be there”, stated Borràs.
Borràs confirmed this Monday that the Government is working on a bill which guarantees electronic voting for Catalans abroad. The draft has already passed the debate in the assembly and will soon have to be approved by the Parliament. “Passing this bill is in your hands”, said Borràs and added that the electronic system will be ready “for the next Catalan elections”. Then, CUP MP Benet Salellas asked her whether it will be available for the referendum.
According to Borràs, the bill established that electronic vote will be applicable for “Parliamentary elections, other electoral procedures and those mechanisms of popular consultation which are competences of the Catalan Government”. “If it is referred to in the referendum’s convening decree, the instrument will have to be there”, she added.
Bill for electronic voting proceeds
Last November, the bill which foresees introducing electronic voting for those Catalans living abroad passed the first parliamentarian stage. Pro-independence parties, governing ‘Junts Pel Sí’ and CUP, together with the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) and alternative left alliance ‘Catalunya Sí que es Pot’ rejected the appeals presented by the Spanish Conservative People’s Party (PP) and Spanish Unionist ‘Ciutadans’. The latter argued that the Government was “invading competences” with the bill.
The draft will now be put to vote amongst the MPs in the Catalan Chamber. “We just need the political will in order to make electronic voting become a reality for the next Catalan elections”, stated Borràs.
27-S elections, the last straw
During the 27-S Catalan elections in 2015, 21,771 Catalans abroad requested to vote, but only 14,781 ballots could finally be counted. 7,000 ballots that were sent on time weren’t able to reach their destination. With this in mind, the Catalan Government has been working on the bill to introduce electronic voting for Catalans abroad.
Minister Borràs recalled the “difficulties” and “the injustices” suffered by Catalans abroad who wanted to vote. “We received many complaints and a lot of Catalans saw how they couldn’t exercise a fundamental right such as voting”. In the light of this situation, the Government told itself that this situation could not be repeated and that it was necessary to guarantee “another system so Catalans abroad could vote, without worrying about paperwork or whether the votes will be lost”.