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Left right out

I'm feeling a bit left out.  It's the day of the General Election today for both lower and upper houses of parliament and I can't vote. I'm not complaining as such but I'd much rather be able to vote for the Spanish politicians who affect my life rather than for the British ones who are largely irrelevant to me. I can vote in UK General Elections, in European elections here in Spain and in the local Spanish ones. Neither country allows me to vote at the regional level

I've just had a wander around the area close to our house to have a look at some polling stations. I found three in maybe a twenty minute walk - one was in a church building, one in a museum and one in a school. They weren't exactly overwhelmed with voters but there was a steady trickle of people exercising their franchise.

The system here is that you vote for a party. The parties put forward a list of candidates in each area and the number of candidates elected from each list is decided on a proportional representation system derived from the mathematically complicated d'Hondt system.

The papers with the lists of candidates are available in the polling stations but they are also distributed by the political parties, often by post but also by, for instance, street distribution or at political meetings. On the day the lists are put inside differently coloured envelopes for the different assemblies and, once the persons right to vote has been checked against the electoral roll, dropped into the transparent ballot boxes. This means that most people don't need to use the polling booth as they turn up at the polling station with their envelopes ready prepared. If there is some problem with the voter registration and you are missing from the electoral roll there is an office where you can try to sort it out on the day.

The polling stations have different "electoral tables" with voters being designated a table according to where they live. Each table is staffed by three citizens chosen at random from the electoral rolls. There are also people on standby and, if all else fails, the first voters who turn up can be pressganged to serve as scrutineers at the table. These people have to be there at 8am in the morning, the voting starts at 9am and they have to work through till the end of voting at 8 in the evening. I think, though I'm not sure, that they are also responsible for counting the votes. They get paid 62.61€ for the work and, if they are employed, they can also reduce their next working day by five hours.

We're off to a concert this evening. Afterwards it'll be out with the beer and peanuts to watch the results in. I wonder just how much of a pasting the PSOE is going to take?


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