Democracy is based on citizen participation, and the act of voting in elections is a civic duty of the utmost importance. A fundamental element in this process is the polling station, an instrument that serves to ensure the proper conduct of voting.
Polling stations, as we all know, are made up of citizens. However, being a member of a polling station can be quite a burden for some people. In certain cases, there are grounds for not being a member of a polling station which are completely valid and understandable.
In this article, therefore, we will look at the reasons why people may refuse to be a member of a polling station, how members are selected and how to proceed in the framework of the Spanish General Elections 2023.
In addition, we will also explain what happens if you decide not to go to the polling station? on election day - without just cause - and what penalties you face if you are late.
What is a polling station?
Elections are a crucial time for democracy, and one of the cornerstones of the electoral system are the polling stations.
These tables are made up of citizens, who dedicate their time and effort, to ensure transparency and the proper conduct of the electoral process.
How and when the members of a polling station are chosen
Each polling station is made up of a president and two membersand the selection of these positions is made through a public draw.
This means that they are chosen randomly using a computer programme that guarantees the impartiality and the transparency of the process.
The drawing of lots to appoint the members of a polling station takes place between the 25th and 29th day following the convocation, as established by law.
In the case of the general elections in Spain 2023, this draw takes place between 24 and 28 June 2023.
What happens if you don't go to the polling station on election day?
Any citizen can be called to this task. However, being a member of a polling station implies a responsibility that not everyone is willing or able to assume.
Then, What happens if you don't feel you can't do it properly or simply can't or won't?
Well, being a member of a polling station it is not compulsoryThere are people who may have grounds for not being a member of a polling station.
Below, we explain which causes are justified for absences from being a member of a polling station.
Reasons for not being a member of a polling station in the Spanish general election 2023
Causes of Force Majeure
Firstly, the reasons for not being a member of a polling station include force majeure.
Within this group, the following circumstances are considered valid reasons personal, work, family or health that prevent the person from complying with this obligation.
These may include illness, caring for family members, travel that cannot be postponed, work commitments or any other reason of similar seriousness that prevents the person from being present at the polling station.
Let us look in detail at the grounds for not being a member of a polling station on grounds of force majeure.
- Be over 65 and under 70 years of age.
- Situation of disability.
- Incapacity permanent absolute and severe disability.
- Incapacity temporary for work.
- Be pregnant more than six months.
- Have a risky pregnancy.
- Internment in prisons or psychiatric hospitals.
- Have served on a bureau at least three times in the last ten years.
- Order of distancing against a voter registered at that polling station.
- Injury(b) The post shall be filled by a member of staff who has a medical condition or illness which prevents him from performing his duties.
- Belonging to a religious denomination or community with a religious regime of closure or incompatible with participation.
- Change of residence to another Autonomous Community.
- Mothers in the period of breastfeeding with babies under the age of nine months.
- Childcare of 8 years or people with disabilities.
- Caring for a relative up to the second degree of consanguinity.
- Family events of special importance - such as weddings - which cannot be postponed up to the second degree of consanguinity.
- Mother or father of children under 14 years of age where it is established that the other parent is unable to care for the child.
- Professionals required to provide services to the Electoral Boards, the Courts and Public Administrations.
- Professions considered essential services such as doctors, health workers, civil protection, firemen...
- Media managers general information officers and heads of news services.
- Professionals required to participate in public events that cannot be suspended without significant economic damage.
What happens if I am late for the polling station?
As a general rule, the polling station is to be constituted at 8:00 in the morning and voting starts at 9:00.
If you arrive late at the polling station and you are a member of the polling station, two situations may arise.
- If you arrive after the table has been constituted with substitutesYou will not be able to assume your role and may be subject to an administrative sanction.
- If you arrive late but before the table with the substitutes has been constitutedYou will be able to assume your role without any major problems.
One of the reasons for not being a member of a polling station could be precisely the uncertainty or the impossibility of complying with the punctuality required in this process.
In this respect, in order to avoid any administrative sanctionIf you know in advance that you will not be able to arrive in time for the constitution of the polling station, we recommend that you inform the Electoral Board of your situation and, if possible, present a supporting document.
In any case, Ódice Abogados would like to remind you that punctuality is essential in fulfilling this important civic duty, as delay may cause inconvenience and delays in opening the polling station for voting.
How to Apply for Polling Station Exemption?
If you have reasons for not being a member of a polling station, you must submit a reasoned statement to the relevant Electoral Board within 7 days of notification.
This letter must be accompanied by the documents substantiating the alleged cause.
Subsequently, the Election Board shall to decide on complaints within five days.
What happens if I don't turn up at the polling station?
If you are appointed as a member of a polling station and you do not show up on election day without a justified cause, -reasons for not being a member of a polling station explained in this article-, you would be committing an electoral offence.
This offence is punishable in Spain, according to Article 143 of the Spanish Criminal Code. Organic Law on the General Electoral Regime (LOREG)with imprisonment for a term of three months to one year or a fine of six to twenty-four months.
In addition to criminal penalties, there is also a administrative penalty of up to 600 euros.
In the event that, for any reason whatsoever unforeseenIf you are unable to attend on election day and you have not provided a justification in advance, it is recommended that you contact the Electoral Board to explain the situation and try to minimise possible sanctions.
However, it is important to remember that unjustified failure to appear is considered a criminal offence, so the best option is always to plead any impediment in advance.
Law Firm in Malaga - Ódice Abogados
We hope that this article has helped you to better understand the reasons for not being a member of a polling station.
Remember that, at Ódice Abogados, we are here to advise and guide you in any legal process you need to face.
If you have any further questions or need assistance in presenting your allegations to the Electoral Board, please contact contact us at.