Who can and cannot vote in Catalan election 2024 on May 12

294,508 Catalans living abroad have the right to vote

Voter in Spain's last general election on July 23, 2023
Voter in Spain's last general election on July 23, 2023 / Gemma Sánchez

Ona Van Dyck Colomer  | Barcelona

April 28, 2024 10:04 AM

April 28, 2024 10:17 AM

Catalans will vote to decide on a new parliament on Sunday, May 12. But not everyone residing in Catalonia is eligible to vote. 

Everyone who has the Spanish nationality, is registered in Catalonia and of legal age can vote, even those who turn 18 years old on election day. 

To be able to vote it is mandatory to be registered on the electoral roll, registrations were closed on January 1, 2024, and such information is automatically shared by city councils to the electoral board. 

Catalans who are temporarily abroad and still registered in Catalonia but can not vote in person or send their vote from Spain have to register in person in the Spanish embassy near them, the registration deadline was on April 13. The deadline for casting the vote is on April 30.

Ballot papers for the last Catalan elections on 2021
Ballot papers for the last Catalan elections on 2021 / Miquel Codolar

Catalans living abroad 

Those permanently residing abroad, who have a Spanish nationality, can also vote if their last administrative residence in Spain was in Catalonia and they have to be registered in the Census of Absentee Residents Abroad (CERA).   

386,486 Catalans are currently residing outside of Spain, according to the Catalan Statistic Institute's (Idescat) data on January 1, 2024. Out of those, 64.3% were born abroad and a third, 123,419 people, used to live in Catalonia.  

Out of all the Catalans living abroad, 294,508 are registered in the CERA and have a right to vote. 

"I have always voted, I think it's important to have my voice be heard and it makes me feel connected to my country of birth," Marisa Colomer Roura, living in Belgium since 1995 but originally from the northern county Ripollès, told Catalan News. 

Voters queue up to vote in Tarragona
Voters queue up to vote in Tarragona / Redacció

All the documents and voting ballots have been sent since April 21 to Catalans living abroad, they can now send their vote by post until May 7 or vote in person at the ballot boxes in the embassy where they are registered between May 4 and 9. 

"I have received all my documents to vote except for the voting ballots. Last year, for the general elections, the ballots came very late. Luckily, we also have the option to download and print out the ballot of the party we want to vote for," Marisa said. 

Ballots are first sent to the nearest Spanish embassy, and they send it to the constituency, corresponding to the four provinces (Barcelona, Girona, Lleida and Tarragona), where the person who voted is registered. 

Vot pregat 

As long as the CERA registration was in order, Catalans living abroad would automatically receive their voting documents, but in 2011 the 'vot pregat' (begged vote) was implemented, those residing abroad had to actively request their right to vote for every election. 

"I had to keep an eye on the deadlines and make sure I registered on time for every election, it was definitely harder to vote with vot pregat, I have some Catalan friends who gave up on voting because of the paperwork," Marisa explained. 

The vot pregat was abolished in 2022, making the voting process easier again, but it is still different in comparison to before the measure. 

"They sometimes add something new to the voting process, recently they added that we need to write our ID numbers and signature on the back of a document," Marisa added.