Sunday, May 24, 2015
Casting a vote
There are two elections going on today. The first is for the majority of the Autonomous Communities, the Regions, which deal with the powers not held by Central Government in areas like health and education. Our region is the Comunitat Valenciana which is made up of three provinces, Valencia, Castellon and Alicante. We are in Alicante and that's where we should vote except that European legislation denies me a vote at this level. I cannot vote regionally either in the UK or in Spain. The second elections are for the local Town Halls. These people decide how much our water and car tax cost, what we pay for rubbish collection, how to organise the local fiestas and lots of the day to day decisions that affect our lives. I do, at least, get to vote at the Town Hall level.
My polling station is in one of the schools in the local town of Pinoso. There is no polling station in the village. There are basic procedural differences between Spain and the UK.
In Britain, provided the system hasn't changed whilst I've been away, you turn up and show that you have the right to vote because you are on the electoral register. That done you are given a ballot paper which you mark with your choice in secret. The marked ballot paper is then placed in the ballot box. You vote for a named person using a first past the post simple majority system.
In Spain you cast your vote by sealing a list of candidates inside an envelope and placing that envelope in the ballot box. The lists are available at the polling station but the lists and envelopes are also available beforehand. This means that lots of people turn up at polling stations with their sealed envelopes already prepared. If you don't have an envelope ready you will need to prepare one in the polling station before you approach your designated electoral table. You prove your identity, I used my passport, someone checks you are on the electoral roll and, provided you are, that's when you are able to place your sealed envelope in the box.
The list system means that you vote for a group of people rather than a single person. The order of the candidates on the lists is chosen by the parties. The number of people elected from each list depends on the number of votes cast and the mathematical formula applied to those votes using a system called the D'Hondt method. It's a proportional representation system based on highest averages. Like all voting systems it has pluses and minuses, supporters and detractors.
Polling stations are open from 9am till 8pm. There are only 5,584 people registered to vote in Pinoso and the vote is local so I presume we will get the local results very quickly. The national picture, reflected in the regional votes, will take longer to firm up just as in the UK.