Turnout surpasses 2019 as Spaniards brave the heat to vote in national election

Electric fans and water bottles were ubiquitous on a day that yielded quite a few anecdotes, including voting newlyweds and a village that voted in 26 seconds

Elecciones generales 23J
A woman votes in a Barcelona polling station equipped with multiple fans, this Sunday.Albert Garcia

Voter turnout at Spain’s national election reached 70.40% with 99% of the ballots counted, up nearly four points compared to the 2019 polls, when it was 66.23%, according to figures released by the Interior Ministry. Postal voting also reached record numbers this year, with 2.47 million voters choosing this option. Turnout rose in the regions of Galicia, Extremadura, the Balearic Islands, Cantabria, the Canary Islands and Asturias and fell elsewhere, mainly in Catalonia, Madrid and the Basque Country.

With 22,562 polling stations open from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. this Sunday, the prospect of a hot day pushed many people to go early. A majority of polling stations lack air conditioning, and they have been equipped with electric fans, portable air conditioning systems and refrigerators containing bottles of water to make the day easier for the citizens who were summoned to man the 60,314 polling tables across the Spanish territory.

With the snap election taking place in the middle of summer, the railway company Renfe enabled shuttle buses on the Madrid-Valencia route after a serious incident in a tunnel interrupted traffic in both directions. The breakdown affected some 4,000 passengers, including many citizens who were going home in order to vote. The main opposition Popular Party (PP) has insinuated that the breakdown may have been due to an alleged boycott by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of the Socialist Party (PSOE). Before this, the PP had suggested that mail-in ballots would experience trouble; instead, there has been a record 2.4 million mail votes.

Resultados Elecciones generales 23J
Pedro Sánchez voting in Madrid on Sunday. Claudio Alvarez

Sánchez voted at 9.10 a.m. at the Nuestra Señora del Buen Consejo school in Madrid. The next main candidate to cast his vote was the head of the far-right Vox party, Santiago Abascal. Yolanda Díaz, head of the left-wing alliance Sumar, showed up at 11:30 a.m. at her polling station in Madrid, and Alberto Núñez Feijóo, leader of the conservative PP voted after 11:30 a.m. at the Ramiro de Maeztu school.

Anecdotes of the day

As always, the tiny hamlet of Villarroya (in the northern region of La Rioja) was the first to close the polls after its seven registered residents once again broke their own record, and in just 26 seconds exercised their right to vote.

A drag queen who called herself Onyx showed up in her best clothes and with special makeup to help man one of the polling stations at the Montserrat school in Madrid, where she encouraged people to enjoy “the party of democracy.”

. El Puerto de Santa María
A worker installing an electric fan at a polling station in El Puerto de Santa María, Cádiz.PACO PUENTES

Pilar and Luis, who got married on Saturday in Granada, went to vote after a whole night of celebration. The couple went to cast their vote at the José Hurtado school, in the central Realejo neighborhood of the Andalusian city.

In some coastal locations such as Valencia, some voters showed up in bathing suits, cast their vote and went right back to the beach.

A voter in Valencia shows up in beach gear on Sunday.
A voter in Valencia shows up in beach gear on Sunday. MONICA TORRES

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