Article published at Catalan News Agency, 3rd October 2016.
Photo: Catalan Minister for Public Administration, Meritxell Borràs, answering the media in London (by ACN)
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
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