Government to recruit 4,500 volunteers for October 1 referendum
Barcelona (ACN).- The Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, announced on Wednesday that the Government will recruit 4,500 volunteers to become election officials for the independence referendum. The volunteers, who do not need to be civil servants, will be trained to guarantee the proper functionality of the voting. Puigdemont thereby guaranteed that nobody will be forced to work as an election official on October 1 against his or her will. Despite not offering many details, the President also said that all the “technical and legal details” of the vote will be presented by the end of June, together with all the democratic guarantees for the referendum. The Vice President, Oriol Junqueras, pointed out that the law of electoral processes (LOREG) does not state that election officials must be public servants nor does it specify who has to coordinate them. In this context, he insisted that the Government's objective is to hold the referendum on October 1 according to the mechanisms of any other electoral process and, in the event that this becomes impossible because of Spain’s veto, in the closest way possible.
According to Junqueras, in recent years some town halls have used civil servants and some have recruited members of the public as election officials. Like Puigdemont, the Vice President also guaranteed that nobody will be forced to do anything they do not want to do nor to act against their conscience. “If someone does not want to take part in this, as you can imagine, we will not force anyone at all. We will not force anybody. Everyone has the right to take part in it or to not take part in it," he said.
Election officials have to make sure the vote runs smoothly, and their tasks go from opening and closing the ballot stations on time to reporting incidents. In the cities of Barcelona and Badalona, they also work as local coordinators, while in the rest of the country those are appointed by the local city government. The Catalan Government is already aware that some towns will not participate in the organization of the referendum nor will they offer public spaces to be used as ballot stations. In those cases, the executive will use buildings it owns directly and, if needed, will appoint local coordinators from the group of 4,500 volunteers.
Junqueras said he was in favor of signing the decree to call the referendum in a collective way, arguing that decisions made “when more united and collective, the better”. According to the vice president, this is the best option when facing a Spanish government that behaves in "an antidemocratic way".
72,000 members of the electoral boards
In addition to the 4,500 election officials, around 72,000 people will be needed for the electoral boards and a total of 8,000 ballot boxes will be in use on referendum day. The Catalan government will not be using the Spanish census for the October 1 vote, but sources close to the executive pointed out that they do already have data on the registered voters and that legislation will be established explaining how can it be used.