Spaniards residing abroad will have a much easier time voting in the general elections. Congress has put on track the elimination of the so-called “requested vote” and with it will put an end to a “bureaucratic obstacle course” that had sunk its participation to minimum levels and had multiplied the complaints for not having been able to exercise the right to vote.

The 2011 reform, which introduced the obligation to beg or request the vote, will be repealed this Thursday with an unusual consensus of the political parties, which have recognized that a big mistake was made when a system was approved that forced “to overcome a gymkhana for vote”.

For this reason, this system is abolished in a new reform of the electoral law (LOREG) in which measures are introduced that facilitate and simplify the procedures for Spaniards abroad: the ballots will arrive at homes without the need to ask for them or they can be download them directly from the internet; centers will be enabled to vote in the ballot box and more time to do so; and the term before the scrutiny for the votes to arrive is increased.

“Rights are not begged, rights are exercised”, declared the Minister of the Presidency, Félix Bolaños, who celebrated that this reform “honors” the Chamber and the country, because Spaniards abroad recover in “fullness “Your right to vote.

Both the minister and other spokesmen have highlighted the “very broad consensus” and “dialogue to reach an agreement” to put an end to what was a “democratic anomaly”. The PSOE, PP, Vox, United We Can, Citizens or PNV, among others, support the change. It will enter into force in the summer, when it passes through the Senate.

The most important thing about the reform is that it abolishes the requirement to request the vote to participate in the elections. Instead, all residents abroad, some two million registered in the census of absentee resident voters (CERA), will receive the documentation ex officio at their home.

In addition to that, the option of electronically downloading the ballots is available to you. To preserve the secrecy of the vote, those of all the parties will be on file, so that later the person can choose. This option allows you to advance the deadlines for sending the documentation.

Thanks to this double access to the ballots, the rule aims to guarantee that all the documentation is in the possession of the voter on time. And thus combat one of the problems that existed before, that many of those who wanted to vote did not arrive on time. There is also greater flexibility because it will be possible to send the documentation before the proclamation of the candidacies and the resolution of the challenges.

Spaniards who so wish may use the ballot boxes that will be in embassies and consulates. The term to do so is extended from three to seven days.

Likewise, the possibility of sending the vote by postal mail to the corresponding Consular Office is maintained if the voter cannot attend.

A relevant point is the extension of the deadlines to count the votes cast abroad. It is delayed three to five days.

The figures for the votes of Spaniards abroad lay bare the failure of the 2011 reform, which imposed the begged vote as a measure to put an end to alleged fraud. As stated in the statement of reasons for the opinion of the initiative, in the general elections in 2011, 2015, 2016 and 2019, less than 10% of the voters requested or requested the vote “as a consequence of the complexity of the procedure” . But it is that they could not even vote all. The actual participation was between 4.73% and 6.8%.

In other words, it is noted, “between a third and a half of the voters who requested or begged to vote in the 2011, 2015, 2016 and 2019 elections ultimately did not exercise their right to vote, largely because they did not receive the electoral documentation on time or because there were incidents in the subsequent sending of their votes by postal mail to the Consular Offices”.

Before the 2011 reform, participation abroad was between 23% in 2000 and 31.88% in 2008. Figures well above the current ones of between 4.73% and 6.8%.

Once the reform of the electoral law was opened, some parties have tried to open other debates of a more general nature, such as the reduction of the voting age to 16 years. However, nothing that did not have to do with the requested vote has been introduced in this reform and the successive amendments were rejected.

In addition to lowering the voting age to 16, the door has been closed to telematic voting (for a security issue) or the delegation of the vote.

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