Electronic voting for Catalans abroad to be available “for the next elections”, Catalan Minister says
The Catalan Minister for Public Administrations Meritxell Borràs, stated that “in a matter of weeks” the Catalan Parliament will have a bill to “discuss and pass” electronic voting for Catalans abroad. “We just need the political will in order to make electronic voting become a reality for the next Catalan elections”, she stated during the 8th European Meeting of Catalan Communities, held between the 30th of September and the 2nd of October in London. During the last elections, only 7.5% of the nearly 200,000 Catalans living abroad and registered to vote were able to do so and 7,000 ballots that were sent on time weren’t able to reach their destination. “The vote abroad is an authentic odyssey”, said Borràs.
Barcelona (CNA).- 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 is working on a bill to introduce electronic voting for Catalans abroad. The Catalan Minister for Public Administrations Meritxell Borràs, stated on Saturday that this bill will be ready “in a matter of weeks”. “We just need the political will in order to make electronic voting become a reality for the next Catalan elections”, she said during the 8th European Meeting of Catalan Communities, held in London. The Catalan Minister recalled that electronic voting has already been implemented in countries such as France and Switzerland, among others.
Borràs claimed not to be “worried” about the “Spanish Government reaction” and has reiterated her commitment to “guarantee the right of the vote to Catalans abroad”. The Catalan Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Jordi Solé, recalled that in the last elections “the official census showed 196,000 Catalans living abroad with the right to vote”. However, only 14,781 Catalans abroad could ultimately cast their vote. The reform of the Electoral Act in 2010 and the introduction of the so-called ‘vote in demand’ through article 75 are the main causes of this low participation rate and have turned “the basic right to vote” into an “odyssey”, Borràs said with regret.
In this vein, the Catalan Minister recalled the “difficulties” and “the injustices” suffered by Catalans abroad in order to vote in the 27-S elections. “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”.
Regarding the implementation of electronic voting for Catalans abroad, Borràs stated that it is just “a matter of weeks”, as the members of the Parliament “are convinced” of the necessity to implement this system. "In the Catalan MEPs we will find an ally to carry out electronic voting", she predicted.
Concerning the response from the Spanish Government, she does not believe that Madrid "will put any impediment" to going ahead with electronic voting abroad because it is "an internationally validated system". It should not "have any objection to giving it legal cover”, Borràs added.
A system "validated and with guarantees"
The Catalan Minister explained that electronic voting, already in place in countries such as France and Switzerland, among others, "is a validated system that assures transparency, anonymity and security" and that it is the only way "to move on” in "participation of Catalan residents abroad”.
The 8th European Meeting of Catalan Communities
60 Catalan entities and organisations working in 25 countries across Europe participated in the 8th European Meeting of Catalan Communities, which this year was held between the 30th of September and the 2nd of October in London. Electronic voting focused much of the conference, but also too did aid policies for both Catalans who go abroad and those who are considering returning to Catalonia.>
The Catalan Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Jordi Solé, stressed the role of Catalan communities abroad as "a key component" of Catalan foreign action and placed special emphasis on "strengthening the network of the delegations".
"The delegations are an instrument of the first order in our foreign policy", said Solé, who claimed that "they are a reality endorsed by the Spanish Constitutional Court". "The Spanish Government itself acknowledges that the Catalan Government has the right to have and open delegations", Solé added.