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Deadline for the vote abroad extended twice for 20-D Spanish Elections

Spaniards living abroad will have more time to vote in the 20-D Spanish Elections. Spain’s Electoral Roll Office has twice agreed to extend the deadline for the postal vote: first it was extended from the 12th of December to the 16th, and this Wednesday the Spanish bodyhas announced its extension to the 18th. The aim is to improve a system which was described as “an authentic odyssey” by the Catalan Minister for Public Administration Meritxell Borràs when more than 200,000 Catalans whom were registered to vote in the 27-S Catalan elections couldn’t ultimately do so. This decision to facilitate the vote for the 20-D Spanish Elections contrasts with the Spanish body’s failure to do so for those Catalans living abroad who repeatedly requested an extension of the deadline for voting in the 27-S Catalan elections. 

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16 December 2015 12:04 PM

by

Sara Prim

Barcelona (CNA).- The vote abroad was described as “an authentic odyssey” by the Catalan Minister for Public Administration Meritxell Borràs when more than 200,000 Catalans whom were registered to vote in the 27-S Catalan elections couldn’t ultimately do so. To improve this system and promote the participation of those Spaniards living abroad, the Spanish body has twice agreed to extend the deadline for the postal vote: first it was extended from the 12th of December to the 16th, and this Wednesday Spain’s Electoral Roll Office has announced its extension to the 18th. This decision to facilitate the vote for the 20-D Spanish Elections contrasts with the Spanish body’s failure to do so for those Catalans living abroad who repeatedly requested an extension of the deadline for voting in the 27-S Catalan elections.

 


The Spanish postal service will now have to guarantee that the ballots arrive on time to the electoral colleges. For the 27-S Catalan elections,7,000 ballots from people who registered to vote never reached their destination, including several ballots which the Spanish Consulate in Rome admitted mislaying. “The Spanish State can’t ignore such a violation of a basic and fundamental right” stated Catalan Minister for Public Administration Meritxell Borràs soon after the 27-S elections,“in a democracy, voting is sacred” she added. 

Solutions needed for a system full of obstacles 

“We are dealing with an archaic state which didn’t protect the fundamental rights of its citizens. Things must be changed. In a modern country the electronic vote must be implemented”. Borràs also urged Europe “to take note” of this problem and assured that the Catalan government won’t “stand on the side lines”. 

Following this, Catalan MEPs from left wing pro-independence ERC-NeCat, liberal CDC, Christian Democrat UDC and Eco-Socialist ICV requested a meeting with the European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, “as soon as possible” to denounce the obstacles reported in the vote abroad process. “The reason is most probably the bad practice of the Spanish administration and the Spanish government’s admitted lack of effort to solve the problem”, they suggested in their letter. According to the MEPs, the International Federation of Catalan Associations (‘FIEC’ in Catalan) will present “documents regarding this situation” to O’Reilly in order to find out “if it is possible to start an investigation and find solutions to a problem that is lately being repeated in every election”, stated the MEPs.

A controversial reform of the electoral law 

The main reason for the low participation from abroad is the change of the electoral law, known as LOREG, its initials in Spanish - Organic Law of General Electoral Regime. Approved in 2010, this new regulation turned the vote abroad into a long and confusing process that introduced the ‘requested vote’ concept. It dragged out the whole process and meant more agents were involved. The new regulation and the ‘requested vote’ system was regarded as an obstacle to voters exercising their right and indeed resulted in lower participation in other regional elections, such as the Basque and the Galician elections (also in 2012). Added to this were the many complaints received pointing to the negligence of some civil servants in facilitating procedures, deadlines that were not met and ballots that never reached their destination. 

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  • Image of a ballot box (by ACN)

  • Image of a ballot box (by ACN)