November 10 General Election

The town that voted in 32 seconds and other anecdotes from Spain’s election

A voting official showed up dressed as a bear in Soria, while ‘Star Wars’ characters were seen in Seville

A man in a polar bear suit presides over a polling station in El Burgo de Osma.
A man in a polar bear suit presides over a polling station in El Burgo de Osma.EFE

Spain’s repeat general election has been going smoothly, although it does have its share of anecdotes.

A voting official who showed up in a polar bear outfit in Soria, and a village where voting lasted all of 32 seconds are some of the stories to emerge from a day when the unusually cold weather is proving to be one of the most talked-about issues.

Bear with us

A man in a polar bear suit presided over a polling station in El Burgo de Osma, a village of 4,900 residents in Soria province. A local woman said that this particular resident is “very committed to animal rights,” and “regularly attends marches against bullfighting.” There is nothing in Spain’s electoral legislation specifically prohibiting voting officials from showing up in this kind of attire. “At least he won’t be so cold,” said the woman with a laugh. The capital of Soria province (also named Soria) routinely ranks as one of Spain’s coldest cities, and in some parts of the province residents have had trouble reaching their polling stations due to the falling snow.

The president of the voting station at Burgo de Osma (Soria) showed up in a bear outfit.

Star Wars in Seville

There was more dressing up in other parts of Spain. A group of fans of the fantasy movie franchise Star Wars showed up in full gear at Seville’s Juan Ramón Jiménez school, although they did remove their helmets and hoods when it was time for them to cast their votes. People around them seemed mildly surprised, Spanish news agency EFE reported.

Today there are elections in Spain. A friend in Seville sent me photos published in ABC of the election day in this city, where Palpatine and his imperial guard voted. (There was a ‘Star Wars’ convention nearby.

New speed record

The eight registered residents of Villarroya, located around 60 kilometers from Logroño, in the small winemaking region of La Rioja, have managed to beat their own record: they voted in 32 seconds and 25 hundredths of a second, making it the first locality in Spain to close its one and only polling station. The mayor, Salvador Pérez, told the news agency Europa Press that many of the voters had to be there at 8am anyway because they were acting as voting officials. “So it was easier to have everyone here on time and break the record,” he said. Villarroya has held this title for years, although its previous best time was 40 seconds.

The dog ate my ID

Two dead

On a tragic note, an elderly woman died after fainting and falling to the ground as she was preparing to vote in Vélez de Benaudalla, in the Andalusian province of Granada. And an 87-year-old man from Urretxu, in the Basque province of Guipúzcoa, died of a heart attack at his polling station, which was closed for over an hour, according to the Interior Ministry.

A voting official in Ourense, in the northwestern region of Galicia, arrived late and without his ID card, which he claimed had been eaten by his dog. The man was relieved from his duties after a substitute was called in, EFE reported. Voting officials are chosen at random from the voter census, and selected citizens have a duty to serve, unless they are able to provide a compelling reason why they cannot do so.

Polling station delays

Snow caused a 90-minute delay at a polling station in Urriés, in Zaragoza province, where a voting official was unable to show up at 8am. In Caspe, a locksmith had to be called in to deal with a polling station door lock that had been sealed with silicone. And two voting officials in Zaragoza complained that they didn’t get along, although this did not free them from their duty to jointly man the voting desk.

Vox-Podemos face-off

There were tense exchanges between party representatives acting as election observers for the far-right Vox and the anti-austerity Podemos in Logroño, in La Rioja. Vox member Adrián Belaza, who once ran for mayor, said on Twitter that a Podemos representative “alerted the police so that we would cut out the national flag from our accreditation, claiming it was electioneering. Even the police couldn’t believe it.”

In a polling station in Logroño, a Podemos member alerted police so that we would cut out the national flag from our accreditation, arguing it was electioneering. Even the police couldn’t believe it.

 Quim Torra’s daughter

The Catalan premier, the separatist Quim Torra, voted on Sunday at a polling station where one of his daughters was acting as a voting official. Torra’s daughter was wearing a yellow sweatshirt, yellow being the color adopted by the independence movement in Catalonia.

English version by Susana Urra.

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