Congress eliminates the requested vote of Spaniards residing abroad

The Plenary Session of Congress approved this Thursday the elimination of the requested vote, which for more than ten years has been required of voters residing abroad and in their place. A series of measures have been approved to facilitate participation of voters abroad, which are estimated to be in force after the summer.

In 2011, after the accumulation of complaints of irregularities with the vote of Spaniards living outside our country, especially in the Galician regional elections, the main parties agreed on a system that requires those registered in the Electoral Census of Absent Residents (CERA) ) to ask to vote in advance to be able to vote to put an end to suspicions of fraud.

This measure was agreed by PP, PSOE, PNV and Ciu, but caused the collapse of electoral participation abroad. Now, as the years go by, political representatives retreat and have backtracked.

A decade of participation at minimum levels

With a large parliamentary majority that has voted in favor, This requirement is ended a decade later and in its place modifications are introduced to make it easier for voters abroad to vote at the ballot box in embassies and consulates, as well as by mail, and to ensure that their ballots arrive in time for counting in Spain.

The reform comes from a bill presented in February 2021 by the two groups that support the Government, the PSOE and Unidas Podemos, and which was frozen by successive extensions until last April. In recent weeks, its articles were modified through amendments agreed with the PP and other opposition groups.

In the process, all matters unrelated to the requested vote and that had been raised in this reform were discarded, such as the lowering of the voting age to 16 years or the review of the proportionality of the electoral system. These other proposals will already be discussed in the subcommittee created in Congress to explore the possibility of a broader reform of the electoral law (LOREG).

“We promised and we delivered. Today we take a very important step to repeal the requested vote and end a democratic injustice. The voice of so many Spaniards abroad will finally be heard without bureaucratic obstacles. The right to vote is not requested, it is exercised,” said the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, in a message published on his social networks.

For his part, the Minister of the Presidency, Félix Bolaños, has said that it is “a special day, in which rights once again gain space and the exclusion of political participation loses ground.”

“In democracy,” he added, “rights are not prayed for, they are exercised, and the public powers must guarantee them”.

Bolaños has indicated that the reform seeks to ensure that the right to vote can be exercised “with the same rights and guarantees inside and outside the country” and that the administration is “an ally and not a wall.”

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