Did the referendum comply with basic voting regulations?

A compilation of the latest changes announced by the Catalan regional government

Volunteers grab a ballot box with their fists in the air at the Ramon Llull school in Barcelona.
Volunteers grab a ballot box with their fists in the air at the Ramon Llull school in Barcelona.Albert García

The Catalan independence referendum, which was banned by the courts for being unconstitutional, is in infringement of all minimum voting regulations.

One major issue is the fact that 45 minutes prior to the start of the vote, many of the rules of the game had been changed.

Other irregular procedures include: there are opaque ballot boxes, there are no official ballots or envelopes, the electoral census is hosted on online servers, there is no electoral board, and there is no counting system.

Universal census

Minutes prior to the start of the vote, many rules of the game had changed

A few minutes after the vote began, the Catalan government changed the rules by establishing a universal census. Citizens who wish to vote in the referendum may do so at any polling station. The goal was to ensure that the possible closure of voting locations would not affect voters.

This means that the same person can vote two or more times, according to the Spanish Interior Ministry. The spokesman for the Catalan government, Jordi Turull, has asserted that people will only vote once, without giving any further explanations.

No envelopes 

No envelopes are required, and ballots printed at home will be accepted.

Envelopes are used to ensure that within each envelope there is only one secret ballot. If more than one ballot appears inside an envelope, the vote is considered void. Without envelopes,someone could slide more than one ballot into the box, if there is a momentary lack of supervision.

Voter control

At around noon, the regional government activated a blog to help people vote online. Supported by the platform Wordpress, it was created so that anyone unable to vote in person might do so until 11:59 pm. The website has since been taken down.

With a lack of envelopes and supervision, the same person can vote multiple times

Throughout the morning, the census app intermittently lost the signal. It was housed in Amazon servers but the Spanish government has since managed to cancel it.

At polling stations, voter names and IDs were being written down by hand rather than checked off a printed list. And it was unclear who was in charge of voting supervision.

No international guarantees

On June 26 the United Nations said it was ruling out being an election observer at the referendum. However, Daan Everts, of the Dutch think tank Hague Center for Strategic Studies, was due to be present in Catalonia for the vote as an international observer.

English version by Debora Almeida.

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