The referendum was very well run by staff and additional COVID-19 precautions were handled especially well. The observation team were impressed by the conduct of staff throughout polling day, especially given the sensitive nature of the issue being contested, which had been described as both emotive and serious by those on the ground . To this effect, staff were quick to address any concerns of the public or campaign officials and the day saw little to no issues regarding the conduct of the campaigns outside of polling stations.
Following on from our 2019 Gibraltar General Election report, it was encouraging to see that polling stations had been equipped with tactile voting devices (TVDs) to aid blind and partially sighted voters. Additionally, disabled access to stations was generally very good, although some locations did have issues with temporary ramps occasionally moving out of place.
Family Voting was identified by our observers at 26.7% (4 of 15) polling stations. Family Voting is the practice by which one member of a family influences or guides another on the way to cast their vote and is described by the OSCE/ODIHR as an ‘unacceptable practice’ . Whilst overall cases of family voting were low, Democracy Volunteers would encourage a proactive approach by staff to prevent such occurrences taking place which did occur in some cases, though not always.
Overall, the observer team were impressed by the very well managed administration of the referendum process and would like to thank all elections staff for being welcoming of our presence and for addressing any questions we had whilst observing. We would also like to thank all those who took part in discussions regarding the referendum and for providing a valuable context for our observation.
Because of our discussions with the two referendum campaigns, we are aware that there were some concerns regarding the voter registration process, and which register voters were being added to (there being a specific referendum register and an electoral one with the franchise being different). This is a complex context for election officials as voters can be informed extensively through media about the different franchise but still some potential registered and new voters may be excluded.
R1: To ensure that voters are clear, in writing, which register they are enrolling to prior to any future referendum or General Election.
Ballot Paper – Official Mark
Some concern was raised by the ‘official mark’ being printed on the inside of the ballot paper. This could lead to a voter’s mark on the ballot paper being visible to the person checking.
R2: To print the official mark on the back of the ballot paper so it can be visible to the presiding and electoral staff without revealing the voter’s voting intention.