On 26 September, people will go out to choose their local governors. Why is it important to vote in the local elections? First of all, through these elections, citizens will be able to decide who are going to be the next representatives in the local area that they live in.
Councils and parishes play a relevant role in the community, as these entities are responsible for many decisions that directly influence those who live in their area of jurisdiction. They can decide, for example, for the exemption of some taxes in specific cases, or support the birth rate through financial incentives, among many others initiatives.
One election – three votes
In Portugal there are over 300 councils and more than 3,000 parish councils, in which governors are elected every four years.
Despite being voted for in the same electoral act, the elections are separated into three different ballot papers: one for the election for the city council, whose winner is elected mayor; another for the election for the Municipal Assembly; as well one for the election for the Parish Assembly, whose chairman of the winning party is elected parish president.
These three ballot papers have different colours- green for the City Council; yellow for the Municipal Assembly; and white for the Parish Assembly. The ballot papers don’t have pictures of the candidates, only the name of the parties that they represent.
Who can vote in municipal elections?
In addition to Portuguese citizens, foreign residents over 18 years of age have the right to vote in Municipal and European elections, as long as they are registered in the Portuguese census, if they are Brazilian citizens with a citizen card or ID card, or if you are from one of the following countries:
- Member States of the European Union (Germany, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Check Republic, Romania and Sweden);
- United Kingdom, with residence in Portugal prior to Brexit;
- Brazil and Cape Verde with legal residence in Portugal for over two years;
- Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Island, Norway, New Zeeland, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela with legal residence in Portugal for over three years;
What is needed?
First of all, you have to enroll with the Portuguese Voter Registration if you are a citizen of one of the previously mentioned countries. In this sense, you must go to the Voting Commission (CR), at the parish (Junta de Freguesia) that corresponds to the address indicated in the valid title of residence or Certificate of Permanent Residence.
To prove your residence, please make sure that you hold an authorisation of residence.
However, voting is always optional, as is parish registration.
How is the registration made?
The registration of these voters is done via SIGREweb, according to the document of identification that allows access to the data shown in that same system of identification (civil identification or SEF), with the data of the voters’ identification (name, parents, date of birth, place of birth, nationality...).
In the registration act, the CR prints, though SIGRE, the application form for the voter so that the voter can confirm the information and sign. This application form is then duplicated and one copy is filed, and then also signed by the voter, as proof of registration. All in all, if you are interested, please, don’t miss the deadline.
Voting is an opportunity to express your disagreement or your support. However, to vote in the municipal elections on 26 September, you will have to be registered in your parish (Junta de Freguesia) up to 60 days before 26 September.
Where should I vote? What if I moved?
If you haven’t registered your new address, vote for the place where you are registered and which corresponds to your previous address. Only by updating this new information (the new address) will the local vote follow the changes.
For further information on where you will vote (if you are already registered), please visit the website at www.censeamento.mai.gov.pt; or go to your parish council (Junta de Freguesia); or send a SMS (free of charge) to 3838, with the message “RE (space) CC/ Residency number (space) date of birth = yyyymmdd”. Ex: “RE 7424071 19820803”;
For more information please see page 8.