Election Day and the Conduct of the Voting

The Presiding Officer, the persons designated as members and their alternates shall meet at 8:00 a.m. at the place designated for voting.

In the absence of the Presiding Officer, the first alternate act in his/her place. If they are also absent, they shall be replaced by the second alternate, and if they are also absent, the first member, or the second member, in that order, shall act as Presiding Officer. Likewise, members who are absent or who assume the office of Presiding Officer shall be replaced by their alternates.

The Polling Station cannot be constituted without the presence of a Presiding Officer and two members. If the Polling Station cannot be constituted, a statement of the facts shall be drawn up and sent by registered mail to the Judiciary District Electoral Commission, which shall have been notified by telegram or telephone.

In this case, the Commission shall freely designate the persons who will constitute the Polling Station, and may even order that one of the voters who are present on the premises form part of the Polling Station.

If, despite the above, the Polling Station cannot be set up one hour after the time set by law for the start of voting, the Judiciary District Electoral Commission shall be notified and a new Polling Station shall be set up within the following two days.

Once the Polling Station has been constituted and the minutes of its constitution have been drawn up, it is no longer necessary to swear in those persons who, as members of the Polling Station, arrive late to perform their duties and who have been replaced by alternates. Once the Polling Station is constituted, the alternates who were not required to be members shall be relieved of any obligation in this regard.

The Presiding Officer is the authority on law and order within the Polling Station and has the sole authority to maintain order, ensure the freedom of the voters and uphold the law.

To this end, the police forces assigned to protect the Polling Station premises shall provide the Presiding Officer with all necessary assistance inside and outside the premises.

No election propaganda of any kind is allowed in or near Polling Stations. The Presiding Officer of the Polling Station shall take such action in this regard as he or she deems appropriate.

Can a Polling Station close before the scheduled time?

Yes, provided that everyone registered at the Polling Station has voted.

Can election posters or propaganda be displayed inside the Polling Station on Election Day?

On Election Day, no posters or election propaganda may be displayed inside polling stations.

If they are displayed, the Presiding Officer (or failing that, the Judiciary District Electoral Commission) should order the Security Forces to remove them.

The emblems or symbols worn by election officials or proxies to identify them shall not be considered as electoral propaganda.

In the event of a public order incident, what should be done?

The Presiding Officer shall have sole authority to maintain public order within the Polling Station. To this end, they can request the intervention of the Security Forces and Corps, if necessary.

The incidents that occur and the names and surnames of those who caused them shall be recorded in the minutes of the meeting.

How does voters identify themselves to Polling Stations?

The identification is carried out by means of the following:

  • National Identity Card (DNI).
  • Passport (with a photograph).
  • Driving licence (with a photograph).

It does not matter if these documents are out of date, but they must be originals, not photocopies.

If, despite the presentation of these documents, doubts arise as to the voter’s identity, the Polling Station shall decide by a majority of its members, taking into account the documents presented provided and the testimony of the voters present.

What happens if the voter is not on the electoral census?

In this case, you will only be able to vote at the Polling Station if you can provide one of these documents:

  • COURT JUDGMENT recognising the voter’s right to be entered on the electoral census at the Polling Station.

  • SPECIAL CENSUS CERTIFICATE OF REGISTRATION, issued by the Provincial Delegation of the Electoral Census Office, which enables you to exercise your right to vote.

Both the original census certificate and the one received by fax from the City Council are valid.

Specific registration certificates must be included in the numbered list of voters and then duly counted in the minutes of the election and meeting.

How do people with disabilities vote?

Voters who are unable to read or who have a disability that prevents them from selecting the ballot paper or placing it in the envelope and handing it to the Presiding Officer may be assisted by a person of their choice.

When do the members of the Polling Station and election officials vote?

Once the voting has been completed and the envelopes containing the absentee ballot papers have been placed in the ballot box, the members of the Polling Station and the election officials accredited to the Polling Station shall cast their votes. The Presiding Officer shall place the envelopes in the ballot box.

The numbered list of voters must indicate the Section and Polling Station of those voters who are not on the Polling Station electoral census.

What happens if envelopes or ballot papers are missing on Election Day?

If the Polling Station notices that there are no ballot papers for a candidate, the election officials or proxies for that candidate may supply them.

If this is not possible, the Presiding Officer shall stop the voting and inform the Judiciary District Electoral Commission so that they can be provided immediately.

The interruption shall not last more than one hour and the voting shall be extended by the length of the interruption.

What happens if voting is interrupted for more than an hour?

As a general rule, voting should not be interrupted for more than one hour. However, if the Polling Station agrees to resume voting after an interruption of just over an hour (with a consequent extension of the time during which voting was interrupted), this cannot be considered an irregularity invalidating the election.

Nonetheless, if the interruption is significantly longer than one hour, it is up to the Judiciary District Electoral Commission to decide whether to resume or suspend voting.

When and by whom is voting suspended? Interruption of voting for more than one hour or circumstances that make voting impossible

In the following cases, the Presiding Officer shall order voting to be suspended:

  • Interruption of more than one hour.
  • If the act of voting is impossible for any reason.

Before making this decision, the Presiding Officer should seek the views of all members of the Polling Station and, if circumstances permit, consult the Judiciary District Electoral Commission by telephone.

What happens if voting is suspended?

If voting is suspended, the Presiding Officer shall state the reasons in a statement which shall be included in the voting records.

A copy shall be sent immediately, by hand or by registered mail, to the Judiciary District Electoral Commission, so that it may verify the certainty and sufficiency of the reasons and declare or request the resulting responsibilities.

In the event of suspension of voting, votes already cast shall be disregarded and not counted. The Presiding Officer shall immediately order the destruction of the ballot papers deposited in the ballot box and shall record this in the aforementioned document.

If voting is suspended at a Polling Station, the Judiciary District Electoral Commission shall call a new election at the Polling Station within the following two days.

Can a voter who is not on the electoral census, but who can prove his eligibility by means of a judgement, vote?

Yes. The Presiding Officer may allow you to vote if you can prove that your address is the same as the Polling Station where you are to vote.

Can a voter be represented by another person?

Never. The act of voting is personal and non-transferable. A person with a disability may be accompanied by a trusted person throughout the process, from selecting the ballot paper to handing the ballot envelope to the Presiding Officer.

What happens if a person who voted by absentee ballot is not recorded as having requested the absentee ballot paper?

The ballot shall not be opened or deposited in the ballot box, but shall be retained in the event of a complaint or appeal.

Can the vote be suspended if a person who has voted by absentee ballot subsequently dies?

Yes, provided that the relevant death certificate is presented to the Presiding Officer so that the vote is not placed in the ballot box.

What should be done if the absentee ballot arrives at the Polling Station at the same time as the election officials are voting, or afterwards?

In this case, these votes CANNOT be counted.

Who can inform the voter how to cast the vote?

Only the members of the Polling Station can provide this information to anyone who requests it.

Can there be police inside a Polling Station?

Yes, if they attend at the request of the Presiding Officer of the Polling Station.

Can election officials and proxies display emblems or stickers of any coalition or party?

Yes, as long as it is limited only to the acronym of the party or coalition.

Can the election officials and proxies file complaints?

Yes, and they should be recorded in the minutes of the meeting, but that does not mean that the Polling Station is involved in that complaint.

Should the Polling Station give the proxies a copy of the count, even if they were not present when the Polling Station was constituted?

Yes, the Polling Station is obliged to provide a copy of the count immediately and free of charge.

Should the Polling Station provide the party representatives with a copy of the numbered voters list?

No, never, because it could violate the constitutionally protected rights of voters.

Can the media carry out information activities on election premises?

They should normally be made from outside the election premises, although they may broadcast images of the voting process inside the premises, for which they will need accreditation to the Polling Station. The recording of images shall in no way interfere with the conduct of the voting.

When is a vote valid?

Votes deposited in the ballot box in accordance with the law may be valid or invalid.

It is considered a valid vote:

  • the vote for candidacy and
  • the blank vote

What is a blank vote?

A blank vote is

  • In elections to the Congress of Deputies: the envelope that does not contain a ballot paper and the vote cast in favour of a legally withdrawn candidate.
  • In Senate elections: the envelope containing no ballot paper and ballot papers with no candidate marked on them.

When is a vote invalid?

A vote cast in an envelope that is different from the official model or altered; or a ballot paper that is different from the official model, altered, or torn; as well as a vote cast in a ballot paper without an envelope; and one in which the will of the voter cannot be ascertained (for example, an envelope containing more than one ballot paper from different candidacies) is null and void.

In the event that the ballot envelope contains more than one ballot paper of the same candidature, it shall be counted as one valid vote.

In the case of elections to the Chamber of Deputies, the following shall also be invalid: votes cast on ballot papers on which the names of candidates have been modified, added or crossed out or their order of placement has been altered, as well as those on which any other type of alteration has been made (for example, to the symbol of the candidacy).

In the case of elections to the Senate, votes cast on ballot papers with more than three names in the provincial constituencies, more than two in the island constituencies of Gran Canaria, Mallorca and Tenerife and in the towns of Ceuta and Melilla, and more than one in the rest of the island constituencies, shall also be null and void.

Votes cast on ballot papers containing a sign, cross or mark next to one of the candidates shall be considered valid, provided that they are not so important or significant as to be considered to have altered the configuration of the ballot paper or to have expressed disapproval of one of the candidates or of the political grouping to which they belong.

Who decides whether a vote is valid or not?

Exclusively the Polling Station, consisting of the Presiding Officer and its members.

Should the Polling Station’s invalid votes be retained?

Yes, for the purposes of any subsequent claims or appeals.

Is a vote containing more than one ballot for the same candidate valid?

Yes, because the will of the voters is clear and unambiguous. On the other hand, if the ballots were for different candidates, the vote would be invalid.

Are votes cast on ballots of a different colour, size or with a typographical error from the official model valid?

Yes, small differences do not change the validity of the vote.

Are votes cast on envelopes of a different colour, size or with typographical errors from the official model valid?

Yes, as long as it does not compromise the secrecy of the ballot.

Is an absentee vote that arrives by ordinary mail considered valid?

No, it will be considered invalid as an absentee vote must be sent by registered post to be valid.

Is a vote cast in a bilingual envelope in a non-bilingual area of a community valid?


Is a ballot in Spanish valid in a bilingual community?

Yes, because the will of the voter is clear.

Is a ballot paper on which a candidate who has been disqualified after their declaration valid?

Yes, it is considered a valid vote, but referring to the validly declared candidates.