VOTING APPLICATION FORMS BY POST
Good news for Orihuela Costa. In the coming days, the Electoral Registration Office (Censo Electoral) will send more than 3,000 voting application forms by post to EU residents living in Orihuela Costa. They are the lucky ones who have registered on the Orihuela padron since 2010. The number is impressive. These "new" residents will be mostly British and Irish but with a good number from other European Union countries. Together, the non-Spanish EU population is by far the largest, some 85% of the total. The Spanish population of Orihuela Costa accounts for probably 15% of the total and they are automatically included on the voters list when they register on the padron. Although in the crisis years, some people have left Spain and returned to their home countries, over 3,000 new EU residents since 2010 indicates that the population of Orihuela Costa continues to increase, both Spanish and non-Spanish components. Growth ensures that Orihuela Costa has a future – one in which we should participate.
The over 3.000 residents who will receive the voter application form by post are the lucky ones in that they will be able to register to vote in the simplest possible way. All they need to do is to open, fill out and return the application form, postage paid, to the pre-addressed Electoral Registration Office. They should do so as soon as possible and in any case before 31 January next year. Receiving the form in the post confirms the right to vote in both European Parliament elections in May next year but also in the all-important municipal elections in May, 2015. The key sections of the form, which is in Spanish, will have translations into English to help the applicant. The form should contain two boxes. Ticking both registers the wish to participate in both future European Parliament elections and local elections. And once returned, the new residents will be on the voters list permanently unless they change padron address.
Although relatively new, the over 3,000 will by now have had the chance to see that Orihuela Costa lags seriously behind Orihuela city, 30 kilometres away, in services especially street cleaning, facilities like centres for youth and senior citizens and parks and gardens. They will also have seen that they are subject to significant local council tax rates but do not get value for their money. These are all good reasons to register to vote in the municipal elections. Until Orihuela Costa has a significant political voice in the Orihuela Council, we will continue to be ignored. With over one-third of the total population, Orihuela Costa should directly elect 6-7 councillors of the total of 25. At present, there is only one - two including the Green Party Councillor for the Coast who is not able to do her job properly in the present minority government which lacks authority and resources. Hence the present state of neglect of the coast.
The European Parliament elections next year are also significant. The European Parliament Petitions Committee, in response to petitions from C.L.A.R.O., has intervened to secure the right to vote of EU citizens and is still examining its response to the petition by C.L.A.R.O., supported by 7,000 signatures, to Save Cala Mosca, the last green zone with a view of the sea on Orihuela Costa.
Unfortunately, the simplest way to register to vote will not be available to those who have been on the padron since before 2010 and who have not already registered to vote. But it is equally important that they register to vote and strengthen the political voice of Orihuela Costa. To do so is not difficult. It requires a personal visit to the Playa Flamenca office of the Town Hall where the officers in charge of the PADRON will be able to help fill out a voter registration application form. Applicants will need to take with them photographic identification (normally passport) plus Residencia and A4 photocopies of each document. This can be done at any time.
We appeal to all those who receive the voter application form by post to take advantage of this simplified way to register to vote. To do so will help ensure a better future for Orihuela Costa, secure their investment here and contribute to a healthy local democracy. It is a right which, if exercised, helps guarantee a better quality of life in the future. The same considerations apply to those who have to visit the Playa Flamenca office of the Town Hall in order to register to vote. For a small inconvenience, the future advantages could be considerable.
If anyone has a question or difficulty in registering to vote, the C.L.A.R.O. office on the 1st floor of the Asturias Restaurant, Punta Prima, open Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. will be able to help.
REMEMBER: NO VOTE NO VOICE