Voters Queue Near Polling Stations in Barcelona Ahead of Independence Referendum

Voters Queue Near Polling Stations in Barcelona Ahead of Independence Referendum
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REUTERS/ Juan MedinaEurope07:53 01.10.2017(updated 09:35 01.10.2017) Get short URLTopic: Catalonia’s Independence Referendum
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At several polling stations in Barcelona, Catalans have already started to form queues in order to cast their ballots in an independence vote regardless of the attempts of the Spanish government to subvert the referendum. At the same time, the local authorities said that the Catalans may cast their votes at any polling station.

BARCELONA (Sputnik) — The voters queue at the polling station in the center of Barcelona before of the upcoming independence referendum in the Spanish autonomous community Catalonia, Sputnik correspondent reported from the scene on Sunday.

The voting is officially projected to start at 9 a.m. (7:00 GMT) and to continue until 8 p.m. (18:00 GMT). A total of 2,315 polling locations were planned to be opened to provide 5.3 million voters an opportunity to cast their ballots. More than 7,000 volunteers will work at the voting locations. However, at the request of the High Court of Catalonia, law enforcement authorities should seal all schools by six in the morning and take them under full control.

In the evening, the Interior Ministry reported that the police had closed most of the premises where they were going to hold the vote, but did not specify the number of schools that still have activists who decided to spend the night there and stay until Sunday morning.

About 500 people lined up near one polling station early on Sunday. People continue to come and gather on the roadway, interfering with car traffic.

“We came here in the morning, because we know that the police might come and close all the polling stations, but they will see that there are a lot of us and they will be unable to do anything,” one of voters, Bernat, told Sputnik.

He said that he and other activists had spent the night in one of the schools in Barcelona together with parents and their children. The school itself is still closed, but it’s clear that the people inside did not sleep, but instead play board games and cheer each other.

According to the Catalan government’s spokesman, residents of Catalonia are allowed to cast ballots at any polling station during the Sunday referendum on the region’s independence from Spain.

“With an identification document people can go to any polling station that will be open,” Turull said at a press conference.

He pointed out that in case of shortages in ballots people can use their own ones printed at home.

“If somebody brings ballots from home, it will be possible to use them,” Turull said.

The spokesman added that more than 9 million ballots had been seized by Spain’s Civil Guard.

The Catalan authorities are expected to hold the independence vote on Sunday. The Spanish government called the referendum bill adopted by the Catalan parliament on September 6 illegal and challenged the legislation in the Constitutional Court, which resulted in the law’s suspension making all the preparations for the referendum illegal.

Madrid is taking multiple measures to prevent the vote. The Spanish Civil Guard entered Catalonia’s Center for Telecommunication and Information Technology (CTTI) on Saturday to switch off the software, necessary to count electronic votes at the independence referendum. It also stopped the activities of the Cesicat, call center providing technical support for the referendum. On Friday, Catalonia’s High Court of Justice ordered Google to delete a mobile application devoted to the independence vote, according to media reports.

Source.