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Electronic vote for Catalans abroad to be available next June

Catalans living abroad will be able to cast their vote by electronic means by next June. The system, pioneer in Spain, will have to be in accordance with the LOREG, the Spanish Organic Law of General Electoral Regime. According to Catalan Minister for Public Administration, Meritxell Borràs, the electronic vote is within Spain’s legality and, therefore, “it will be nonsense” for the Spanish Government to impede its implementation. The initative will help Catalans living abroad “to exercise a fundamental right”. The LOREG and the ‘requested vote’ system, introduced in 2010, dragged out the whole process and meant more agents being involved, which  resulted in lower participation. Indeed, only 14,000 of the 200,000 people registered to vote were able to cast their ballot on the last Catalan Elections.

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21 July 2016 05:58 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (CNA).- Catalan Minister for Public Administration, Meritxell Borràs, presented this Thursday the Government’s plan to implement electronic vote for those Catalans leaving abroad. The system, which is expected to be operational by next June, will require a “partial electoral law” to include this type of voting and do it according to the LOREG, the Spanish Organic Law of General Electoral Regime. Borràs stated that the electronic vote is within Spain’s legal system and, therefore, “it won’t be nonsense” for the Spanish Government to impede this reform, since it will resolve a problem which those Catalans living abroad have to face “in order to exercise a fundamental right”. The LOREG and the ‘requested vote’ system, introduced in 2010, dragged out the whole process which Borràs herself described as "an odyssey" and "archaic".  Indeed, in the last Catalan Elections, only 7.5% of the nearly 200,000 Catalans living abroad who were registered to vote could ultimately do so.


According to Borràs, the design of the system is "secure and auditable." The applicants could request both the electronic and postal vote at the same time. Then, the Government, in collaboration with the Electoral Census, the Electoral Roll and the National Institute of Statistics will send safely, through email and phone, the identification keys required. Then, after checking the applicant’s identity, the electronic vote could be carried out. The whole process will be available online and paperless, reducing the costs and confusing processes involved in the ‘requested vote’.

The electronic vote “doesn’t mean any legal nor technological challenge”, explained Borràs and pointed out that it has been designed to meet the legal requirements and with technological guarantees, so that the vote could be casted “in a secret and safe way”. Therefore, according to Borràs "there is only need for political will” to make it a reality and stated that the Catalan Government “is absolutely determined to succeed."

Since it is a pioneering system in Spain, the Government expects for the Spanish State to “collaborate” in both facilitating the census and ensuring "that the vote will not be manipulated".

"It has been proven to work in other countries”, explained Borràs and stressed that “the basis of democracy is the right to vote is fundamental” and that the Government is “, determined to ensure that any Catalan, where they live, can vote”, she concluded.

A pending issue

On the 27-S Catalan Elections, only 7.5% of the nearly 200,000 Catalans living abroad who were registered to vote had their ballots received and counted. In all, 21,771 Catalans abroad requested to vote, but only 14,781 ballots were counted in the end. “7,000 ballots from people who registered to vote, which is certainly an annoying process, never reached their destination. Something went wrong here” stated Borràs. The 7,000 ballots that were not counted were actually sent out on time, the Minister stated. However, she described the vote abroad as “an authentic odyssey”, “a bureaucratic torment” during which voters had to “deal with consulates, embassies, shortened timetables, as the process took place in August, different criteria and of course, paying the cost of all the journeys and procedures required”.

Borràs urged the Spanish State to not “ignore such a violation of a basic and fundamental right”, arguing that “in a democracy, voting is sacred”. 

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  • Detail of a ballot box (by ACN)

  • Detail of a ballot box (by ACN)